The public relations officer of the People’s Progressive Party has issued a press release on behalf of their party urging the National Assembly to review the repealed 1970 Constitution, the 1997 Constitution and the rejected draft constitution 2020 to make amendments to the 1997 constitution. Below is the full text of the press release:
History repeats itself in 2020 when it comes to the first Gambian referendum, the republican constitution bill was tabled on 9th November 1965 in the House of Representatives. After the bill successfully passed in the House of Representatives “the issue was put to the electorate in the referendum of 27th November 1965, some 61,568 votes out of a total electoral roll of a little over 150,000 supported the motion; 21,921 votes were cast against, while about 60,000 people failed to vote at all. Mathematically, two-thirds of the total of 93,489 votes cast worked out to 62,326; we fell short of this mark by just 758 votes.
It was perhaps, these statistical details more than anything else that accounted for the hostile reaction with which the referendum results were greeted in many circles within the PPP. Many of our supporters saw the results as a disappointment and an irritation, and this explained the angry mood that dominated the emergency meetings held shortly afterwards at the Ritz Cinema Hall in Bathurst and in Faraba Banta, Western Division.
These meetings were convened to examine the outcome of the referendum and its implications. In his capacity as Prime Minister, the Party Leader made it clear when the results were announced that the correct path to follow was to accept them in good faith and not to resort to any extra-constitutional action, in pursuit of our objective. At the party meeting, he again maintained that, despite all that might have gone wrong, we should accept the results as the popular verdict. But this wise counsel did not receive the instant support of everybody. There were noisy protests from many emotional speakers suggesting a rejection of the referendum results, and much of the storm engendered at both meetings was directed at the Party Leader for what was wrongly perceived as his softness and lack of resolve.
In the end, the party leader was able to convince his followers that honour and the spirit of democracy demanded that we not only accepted defeat with equanimity, but also that we resolve to work even harder for eventual victory. With this, the party took the shock of the defeat in its stride and settled down to hard work as advocated by its leader.” (Voice of the people; page 82-83).
Before we get to the position of the party, PPP wants to address the misleading statement by Mai Fatty the leader of the GMC party for saying one of our members of Parliament Hon. Momodou Ndow voted against the draft constitution promulgation bill in his view has shown the desire of the PPP not to endanger President Barrow’s political ambitions as reported by standard newspaper.
Mai’s statement was grossly deceptive, and we urged him to apologize to the party. We want to make one thing clear to Mai Fatty our party has never at any time interfered in the work of our National Assembly members. PPP strongly believes in democracy to strengthen that our NAMS shall be giving the independence to exercise their mandate without the interference of the PPP executive members.
National Assembly members shall act based on their conscience, and they should always put the national interest first. Mai Fatty deliberately failed to mention Hon. Fatoumata Njie (Touma) public support for the draft constitution which has demonstrated the internal democratic nature of our party.
Given the above, PPP membership is being divided on the draft constitution bill. Some of our members did not support the draft constitution bill on grounds that it omitted key fundamental clauses that are not in the interest of Gambians. While those on another side strongly support the passing of the draft constitution bill as it is a progressive one when compared to the 1997 constitution. This leaves the party with no official position regarding The CRC2020.
Moving forward, we want to remind our members and Gambians to learn from history that not all hopes are lost. As mentioned above PPP had lost its first referendum for republican status, but had respected the rule of law and had started the process all over again. Although the circumstances were different and one could argue that it was decided by the people, not the parliament, but that is the nature of democracy and parliamentarians are the people’s representatives. We as a party and a nation must forge ahead and continue with the rebuilding of The Gambia.
More importantly, we will urge the National Assembly to review 1970, 1997, and the rejected 2020 draft constitution to make amendments to the 1997 constitution. We want to make sure that the changes reflect the desire of the Gambians and to ensure the continued existence of democracy, rule of law, peace, tolerance, and a fair and transparent system of using our elected officials.
Vox Populi, Vox Dei (the Voice of the People is the Voice of God)
Public Relation Officer