11 December 2018

Gambia: CRC Concludes Second Leg of Nationwide Consultation On the 1997 Constitution

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), on Sunday December 9th 2018, concluded the second leg of their nationwide consultation with the people, on the review of the 1997 Constitution.

The second leg national consultation started on Saturday November 24th and ended on Sunday December 9th 2018. The nationwide consultation started from the Upper River Region and ended at the Lower River Region of the Gambia.

The delegation held two meetings in each of the Districts in these Regions to discuss with the people on issues contained in the 1997 Constitution, and what they want the proposed new Constitution to make provision for. The CRC is mandated to revisit the 1997 Constitution and come up with a proposed report and draft of a new Constitution, to be endorsed by the Gambian people at a referendum.

The final meeting of the second leg was held in Kiang Karantaba village in the Kiang West District of the Lower River Region.

In response to some of the issues raised by the CRC delegation, Mustapha Manjang of Kemoto Village said the proposed new Constitution should make provision for the death penalty not be practiced in the Gambia, because the country is not an Islamic State. "The death penalty should only be practice in Islamic States. My proposal is for it to be replaced with life imprisonment," Manjang told the CRC delegation; that the seven and fifteen years of both marriage and naturalization requirements for citizenship according to the 1997 Constitution, is enough and should neither be increased nor reduced.

"We have our relatives in the diaspora and we want them to be documented. Therefore, we should also be flexible to others in our country," he said. Manjang continued that anybody born in the Gambia, and is educated and working in the country, should be regarded as a citizen.

On his part, Ebrima Sanyang told the CRC delegation that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for diaspora Gambians and those prisoners who are Gambian citizens, the right to vote. "As far as they are Gambians, they deserve to participate in their civic duties."

Sanyang said elections are expensive and contributed that both presidential and national assembly elections, should take place on the same day.

"Alkalos should not be voted. Chiefs should be subjected to elections, but Governors should be appointed by the president," he suggested.

Demba Bajinka said the proposed new Constitution should make provision for the Chief Justice of the Gambia to be a Gambian. Bajinka said Gambians should be ready to take up all responsibilities as they claim to be independent.

"The women, youth, disable people and minorities, should be empowered in all areas. Dual citizenship should be accepted but they should not have senior positions in our Government," he said.

The CRC plans to start the third leg of the nationwide consultation of the people on Monday December 17th 2018, in Foni to the rest of the Western Region.

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