THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION IN FOCUS: Advocacy Method By Civil Society Is Failing


Suspense grips the nation as the National Assembly displays divisions among the members. The members who appear to show doubts regarding the wisdom of supporting the Bill have been showing more defiance in their interventions. According to some of them Civil society advocates have been calling to threaten them to support the Bill or face the consequences. They claim that their harassment is in contempt of the National Assembly.

Others claim that APRC members are being isolated by referring to the 1997 Constitution as an APRC Constitution and that the draft is seen as a means of putting an end to dictatorship. They argue that if such advocacy messaging continues many supporters of the APRC would turn against the constitution.

It is therefore important that those engaged in advocacy to reassess their approaches. It is important for them to note the provision of Section 110 of the 1997 Constitution which reads:

“Any act or omission which obstructs or impedes the National Assembly in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the National Assembly in the discharge of his or her duties or affronts the dignity of the National Assembly shall be a contempt of the National Assembly  and, in addition to any liability in respect thereof under the criminal law, the offender shall be liable to reprimand or admonition by the National Assembly…….”

However, National Assembly members must also take note of section 112 of the Constitution which reads:

“{b)  all members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of The Gambia, desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people, and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole and in doing so shall be influenced by the dictates of conscience and the national interest.”

Let us see whether the National Assembly members will keep us in the second Republic with the 1997 Constitution or lead us to the third Republic with a new Constitution that is now in a draft form.

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