Gambia: Some Gambians Have the Tendency to Make Simple Matters Very Complex


At this moment the 1997 Constitution is still in force. No body can repeal it without promulgating another Constitution to replace it.

The draft Constitution was designed to replace it but had been put in a state of Coma by the deputies at the National Assembly.

The question that each Gambian should be asking is whether there is need for a constitution that is better than the 1997 Constitution. If so, are the clauses of the draft constitution an improvement or not, regarding the content of the provisions of the 1997 Constitution.

Let us give a Concrete example. Section 27 of the current 1997 Constitution reads:

"27. Right to marry

(1) Men and women of full age and capacity shall have the right to marry and found a family.

(2) Marriage shall be based on the free and full consent of the intended parties."

Interestingly enough, this provision of the 1997 Constitution was initially incorporated into the draft Constitution by the CRC.

There was a huge uproar that the provision aimed to promote same sex marriages.

The CRC reviewed the draft and came up with the following formulation under clause 54 of the draft:

" Right to marry and found a family "

A man and woman of full age and capacity have the right to marry and found a family, and such marriage shall be based on the free and full consent of the man and the woman."

Surprisingly, some deputies still raised objection to the refined formulation and even proceeded to discard the whole draft.

What then is the consequence? The answer is simple. The 1997 constitution is still in force and Section 27 which some raised strong objection against is still the provision that is in force. Hence the deputies have made the refined provision to go into COMA while the provision against which they initially expressed disagreement still remains as the fundamental law of the land. They have achieved the very oppose to what they intended.

When knowledge and sincerity fail to guide decision making at the highest level, we will always take one step forward and two steps backward.

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