Gambia: Draft Constitution Before Lawmakers!

15 September 2020

The constitution of any country is the supreme law of that land and binds all persons and all state organs at both the national and local levels of government.

Therefore, drafting a constitution that will encapsulate the need and wishes of the masses is important. Not all the citizens will be satisfied with a nation's constitution. But let's argue and come to terms after all we are ONE TRIBE, ONE PEOPLE, ONE NATION.

After a thorough review by the presidency, the draft constitution of The Gambia was on Monday tabled before Members of the National Assembly for the first reading.

The Justice Minister, who is in charge of the bill will push for a motion for the second reading in accordance with standing order 66 sub-clause 2 which states "at the conclusion of the proceedings of the first reading or any subsequent stage of a bill. It would be recalled that the Ministry of Justice in late May published the national document in the Gazette to give a way for its final presentation before lawmakers at the National Assembly.

The move marks another significant milestone in the country's democratization process, as it symbolised another major step towards repealing the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia while proceeding to usher in a new constitution.

What is even interesting in the new constitution is the overwhelming involvement of Gambians. Over the past months, the Constitutional Review Commission were out and about on a nationwide outreach so as to engage local communities about what needs to be included and what not. This, we feel is important because every citizen should have a say in the constitution. This would give an idea to the commission members to exactly identify areas that need to be struck or repealed and that that need to be included.

While opinions continue to differ on the new national document with some branding it as being 'plagiarised', some described it as a broadminded and it coming timely.

So we call on the lawmakers to do justice to the document by reading it thoroughly and highlight areas that need adjustment or debate.

If the Draft Constitution which is perceived to be all inclusive passed all the stages at the parliament, the Gambia will likely hold a referendum in 2021 which will determine the people's approval of the so called "good constitution."

"The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."

Thomas Jefferson

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