The Christian Council decided to involve its decision makers in sober reflection on the method adopted in promoting its rights as a religious group and engaged Halifa Sallah, after he made a promise to engage all the religious communities on the subject that created unprecedented tensions among the religious groups thus undermining the very spirit of consensus on which a document that all owns must be grounded.
In the Press release issued by the Council Halifa Sallah is reported to have said the following to them at a workshop organised to review the merits and demerits of previous approaches by the Council:
“First, the draft constitution process has moved away from the main issue which was to build a better constitution. As such consideration should have been given to keeping what was good in the 1997 constitution and then the debate should have focused solely on the areas to be amended. Secondly, in are public all citizens are equal, and everyone has both individual rights and because they belong to groups by virtue of their tribe, gender, religion or age they also have group rights which they expect to be protected by the constitution. Thirdly, the concept of “Secular” or “Non-Secular” Constitution is misunderstood by a large number of the population and to eradicate the confrontations a clear definition of what is meant by a secular state in law has to be given by CRC. The absence of a clear and agreed definition has not helped the debate. Lastly, no group should be so preoccupied with one or two provisions of a draft constitutions to the point of being oblivious of the essence of the whole exercise of drafting a constitution. If the draft constitution is rejected, the 1997 constitution which was tampered with by the former President will continue to be in force as a nation cannot be without a constitution.
“To avoid the failure of the constitutional reform process therefore there is a need for two things: 1) Group rights in general and faith-based group rights, in particular, must be clearly identified, openly respectfully debated and reconciled in such a way as to avoid conflict. 2) All parties in the nation should take a deep breath and change course to work together to unpack the debate without deliberately misinforming the people or using offensive language.”
Honorable Sallah cautioned that “National confrontation would create National chaos; and this is not the Agenda!”.
Foroyaa is aware that Halifa Sallah has started contacting prominent scholars on the subject of the rights of the other groups to have the same dialogue he had with the Christian leadership. Foroyaa will publish any development which emerges that indicates greater understanding. Foroyaa has also recommended the organisation of a symposium by students of the Islamic University to which people like Halifa Sallah and other Scholars could be invited for a healthy exchange of views. Our readers should be ready for fresh ideas to nourish their minds.