Gambia: What Next As Deputies Reject the Draft Constitution 2020?

Judge's gavel.
23 September 2020

The 1997 Constitution of the Gambia remains the supreme law of the country after National Assembly Members rejected the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia Promulgation Bill 2020 on Tuesday at the Parliament in Banjul.

According to the speaker of the National Assembly, 31 out of the 42 members of the Assembly voted to pass the bill to the next state, failing to meet the required threshold of the scrutiny.

Now that the Draft Constitution has been thrown into the bin by the lawmakers, you may wonder what's next in the Gambia's pursuit to get a new Constitution.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow, before members of the Parliament began voting, said rejection of the bill means the 1997 Constitution would remain as the country's supreme law.

"If I am correct, if the no answer means that the bill is finished today, so what?" he queried.

"We are then left with the 1997 Constitution that is the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997."

He went on to say: "The only other option in addition to that is this draft will have to go back to the drawing board and we have a second attempt if you completely reject it and do not allow it to go to the committee for consideration.

"Then basically you are telling us to go back and redo it if you want to come back but for now go back."

He emphasised to the lawmakers that failure to pass the draft means using the current 1997 Constitution.

"But by sending us back with the bill it means we continue to operate with the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia 1997."

Therefore, The Gambia for a foreseeable future will use the 1997 Constitution until when another decision regarding constitutional process is taken.

It remains to be seen what would be the government's next proposal, either to redo the rejected draft or make major amendments in the 1997 Constitution to be palatable with events of the time.

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