COMMENTARY BY HALIFA SALLAH, PART 11
It should now be evident to all readers that Gambian Constitutional development has not shown any iota of tendency to undermine freedom to hold and practice religion by Constitutional means. No philosophy or religion has ever been established by any Constitution of the Gambia as a state philosophy or State religion. The Demagogue who swore as Minister to defend a Constitution which separated the power of religion from the power of the state so that all sovereign Gambians irrespective of religion, regional or ethnolinguistic origin or belief could occupy any office without threatening the integrity of any person or group, chose to distort the essence and object of the separation which aims to promote unity in diversity.
In fact, the first elected member of the Legislative Council in 1947 was Mr Edward Francis Small, a Christian, voted for by majority Muslims. Reverend J C Faye, elected to the Legislative Council in 1951, was a Christian elected by a majority Muslim Community. When the first Chief Minister of the Gambia, the late Pierre Sarr Njie, took office in 1961 he was a Christian elected by a majority Muslim Community. When the late President Jawara became the leader of the PPP and got elected by a majority Muslim Community to be a Minister in 1961 and a Premier in 1963 thus leading the country to internal self - government on 4th October 1963 he was a Christian called David Kwesi Jawara. When Leopold Sedar Senghore was elected to be the President of Senegal by a majority Muslim Community he was a Christian.
Could all these people have occupied the highest offices if the Constitutions providing for their office established a religion as a state religion?
If we want African unity could we rely on Constitutions, Constitutive Acts or Charters that establishes a religion as the basis of the Union? Where then is the pragmatism of the Demagogue when his position cannot be relied on to promote national or continental unity or foster universal convergence.
It should therefore be clear to all the faith based groups, especially The Islamic and Christian Councils that agent provocateurs like our demagogue who tries to fish political power from National discord should be listened to with discerning ears and censored with discerning minds incapable of being put to slumber by the absurdities and crudities emanating from unthinking minds with ulterior and ignoble motives.
Those sons and daughters of the land who are the defenders of the sovereignty of our motherland and the sovereignty of our people who wish to participate in this debate on constitutional reform should have restricted themselves to the relevant context and content that may emanate from a review of the historical evolution of Gambian Constitutions culminating with the context and content of the 1997 Constitution.
A pragmatic citizen of the Gambia would have then reviewed the mandate of the Constitutional Review Commission and then give recommendation on changes in the content of the 1997 Constitution that are reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society, and add value and provide justification for founding of the Constitution of a third Republic. Allow me to do just that to reshape the trend of the discourse.
The mandate of the CRC is as follows:
To be continued