Ousainou NM Darboe, secretary general of the United Democratic Party Sunday evening called on members of the National Assembly to give the Final Draft Constitution a chance to be voted in by the People.
He said this in a statement issued on Sunday. See below the full text of the statement issued by the UDP leader.
Dear Compatriots, Honorable Members of the National Assembly and Distinguished Leaders of Political Parties,
Fraternal Greetings, Asalaamu Alaikum
Today our Nation is at a crossroads in its political evolution. It is at a historic moment as a new draft constitution is presented to you for your consideration. This is a rare opportunity that you all have, to position the country on a path of progress and development. I am sure all of you take this responsibility with all the seriousness that it deserves.
Historic Moments like this rarely comes in the life of a nation. As citizens and as leaders of our people, we have a duty and a responsibility to meet the moment in a patriotic spirit beyond all other affiliations. All considerations at this point should be in the larger national interest of ONE GAMBIA ONE PEOPLE.
· Our struggle against dictatorship and self-perpetuating rule for 22 years in the Gambia was a common struggle – cutting across the entire society: Many Gambians from all walks of life made great sacrifices for democracy and the rule of law. Some were exiled; some were disappeared, some were imprisoned, and many more were tortured. The population of the Gambia were tormented beyond words.
Unchecked power and abuse of office and authority was the order of the day. The new constitution has come to remedy these past atrocities.
The call for reforms had been a constant struggle valiantly fought by all Gambians. As I recall the role played by many people including the current Minority Leader of the National Assembly who was one of the leaders of the Interparty Group demanding Electoral and Constitutional Reforms.
I believe that the defeat of the brutal dictatorship at the polls by Coalition 2016 peacefully was a victory of the peace-loving Gambian people.
The transitional process that We as a people started on 1st December 2016 is anchored on a Tripod of Reforms:
· The Janneh Commission,
· Constitutional Review Commission
· The Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.
The CRC has completed its work. During the review period they held wide ranging consultations with all segments of our nation and all the stakeholders at home and in the diaspora. This undertaking was conducted at great cost to the public purse and as mandated by law. The promulgation process of a new constitution is now underway in earnest.
Following the submission of the Final Draft Constitution to the President and having the Bill in the Gazette for its promulgation, the National Assembly in exercise of its constitutional mandate to consider and pass all bills into law is performing its core function.
My Compatriots, Honorable Members of the National Assembly, at this critical juncture in our nation’s history I implore you all to remember the enormous sacrifices that Gambians have made for a genuine democratic nation based on freedom and justice under law.
The doctrine of Constitutional supremacy is premised on the principle that the existing Constitutional order is fundamentally defective and is no longer fit for purpose to an extent that it must be replaced in its entirety with a better one. This has clearly been the case in this country.
I urge you Honorable members to give the Final Draft Constitution a chance to be voted in by the People. Please take cognizance of the powers vested by the new Constitution in your august Assembly to amend it as you see fit thereafter.
I am convinced that through this new Constitution the Gambian people have given themselves a fresh start and aspire to make a clean break with the Past dictatorship and finally break the chains of tyranny in a concerted effort, to make our nation more just and equal for all.
Honorable Members of the National Assembly, I urge all to vote for the Bill before YOU in the name of the people who voted for you so that the same People in whom all sovereign powers reside can vote in the Referendum to usher in the third Republic for the Gambia our Homeland.
Long Live the Gambia, Long Live Democracy