By: Kebba AF Touray
The National Assembly of the Gambia on Tuesday 22nd September 2020 rejected the Constitution Promulgation Bill 2020.
The bill dubbed the Draft constitution failed to make it to the third reading stage of the Assembly after 31 of the voted for the draft constitution to move to the next stage, and twenty three voted against it.
The Bill was tabled before lawmakers on Monday 14th September 2020 by the Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow.
Minister Jallow said the object and reasons for the bill seek to provide for the promulgation of the Constitution of the Gambia 2020 and to repeal the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia.
The lawmakers debated on the bill for 3 whole days. During an intensive but captivating debate, member s of the assembly expressed divergent opinions on the document.
While some rendered their whole support to the document on grounds that it contains the will and aspirations of the people and described it as the best constitution since the Gambia attained nationhood, others expressed that the draft constitution contains lots of irregularities and unclear issues.
Some expressed the opinion that the draft constitution is a carbon copy of the Kenyan constitution of 2010 and.
The debate continued and concluded on Tuesday 22nd September 2020. Subsequently, the Speaker put the matter to a vote for the bill to proceed to the third stage.
The draft constitution was thrown into the dustbin when 31 voted in favor (55 percent), 23 (40 percent) voted against the draft constitution, while some abstained.
Hon. Kebba K Barrow, Member for Kombo South and Majority Leader said that the Gambia is at a cross-road and that the rejection of the draft constitution is not good for the country, alleging there were manipulations in the process.
He said: “Those who voted against the draft constitution are setting the principles of good democracy backward. It is important that as Gambians. We should know the stands of those who voted against the Bill and this has been clearly manifested at the National Assembly Chambers”
Rejecting the bill, he said, means the Gambia is not going forward after spending D116 million on the drafting of the bill, and such a huge amount of money should not have gone in vain.
Ousman Sillah, Member for Banjul North, described the rejection of the bill as unfortunate and a real setback for the country’s reform process as well as the transitional aspirations.
He said the draft has catered and sought to enhance so many fundamental human rights of the citizens. He described it as a miss-opportunity for the entire nation.