By Yankuba Jallow
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) yesterday commenced a two-week in-country consultative tour.
The CRC was established by the CRC Act 2017 to review the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia. The Commission has two mandates namely; to draft a new constitution for The Gambia and to prepare a report in relation to the new constitution.
As part of its two -weeks consultative meeting, the CRC held its first forum in Fass Njaga Choi.
The chairperson of the Commission, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow in his intervention, said the execution of the mandate of the CRC requires them to consult Gambians and other stakeholders to seek opinions on what they aspire to see included in a new constitution for The Gambia.
Jallow added that the CRC considers it relevant that in order to aid meaningful dialogue on constitutional reform; it should identify issues to draw the attention of Gambians and other stakeholders as a mechanism of initiating and gauging public opinion on those issues.
The people of Lower Nuimi District in a Consultative Meeting with the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) told the Commissioners that any person born in The Gambia should be a Gambian.
Badou Nyang a native of Fass said any person born in The Gambia irrespective of whether one or both of his/her parents is a Gambian or not should be a Gambian.
“If he is not regarded as a Gambian, then it will render that person stateless,” he said.
Nyang also opined that the new constitution should reduce the years for citizenship by naturalisation from 15 to 10 and marriage from 7 to 5 years.
Mahtar Choi, also from Fass said sign language should be enshrined in the new constitution so that it could be recognized.
“We are part of The Gambia and we should be recognized in The Gambia. We have 7 major languages in The Gambia and sign language should be the eighth. We have many deaf people in The Gambia and we have to be recognised,” he said.
Choi further suggested that the President should not have the power to appoint or dismiss any Commissioner of IEC or the Chairman of IEC.
Alagie Wally Corr said representation should be done through the people’s will which is elections and that it should not be based on appointment. He said alkalos, chiefs and governors should be voted into office. He also said there should be term-limit for the office of president so as to ensure transparency and efficiency.
“The office of president should have term-limit because it should not be an office that has no limit of tenure,” he said.
Maimuna Ndour said the people of the Diaspora should be allowed to vote and contest in all categories of elections in The Gambia including presidential elections. Amadou Bobb supported Maimuna’s opinion.
Abdoulie Cham, a native of Chamen said the chiefs and governors should be elected into their respective offices.
“Why should the president have the power to appoint and dismiss chiefs or governors,” Cham posed.
Other speakers opined that Gambians in the Diaspora should not be allowed to contest or vote in local government and national assembly elections.
“You cannot represent the people you don’t know. How can you know our problems when you are in the Diaspora for years,” they said.
The tour continues today in Madina Sering Mass.