Monday, April 12, 2021

The Task Before The Executive And The Legislature On A New Constitution

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At this time in December 2016, sand bags were all over the place with soldiers in camouflage uniform ready for battle against an imaginary enemy.  The Gambia entered a period of Political impasse which led to thousands becoming refugees and internally displaced persons.

Political maturity was shown which gave birth to a peaceful transfer of power. That peace has endured for four years and Gambians will be going to the polls in 2021 to determine which Gambian will steer the ship of state to safe shores in the next electoral cycle.

Unlike the political impasse there is no constitutional impasse in The Gambia that is life threatening. The facts are evident. The Executive brought a Bill aimed at promulgating a new Constitution drafted by a Constitutional Review Commission and repealing the 1997 Constitution.

The majority of National Assembly members supported the motion for the second reading to be approved in order for the Bill to go to the Committee stage. The Minority, many of whom claimed that the executive was adversely disadvantaged, opposed the second reading thus depriving the motion of a three-quarters majority approval for the Bill to pass to the next stage.

Consequently, the 1997 Constitution still remains as the Constitution of the Gambia.  This is clearly saying that those who jubilate due to the loss of the motion are satisfied with the retention of the 1997 Constitution. There is no term limit in the 1997 Constitution. There is no second round of voting procedure if no candidate gets more than 50 percent. There is no by elections in 90 days should the office of president becomes vacant before the end of his or her tenure.  

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It is important for the executive to explain to the Gambian people the steps it is ready to take to make it possible to have a Constitution for the Third Republic. In the meantime, there is no publication in the Gazette regarding the promulgation of a new Constitution. The executive and those who stopped the Bill from proceeding should explain to the population whether they are satisfied with the 1997 Constitution or not and what they support if their answer is to the contrary. There is no middle road.  

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