Kebba Jeffang, reporting from Jangjangbureh
Districts Seyfolu (Chiefs) in the Central River Region (CRR) have emphasised the need for inclusive voices and thoughts of all Gambians in writing the new Constitution that will enter the country into third republic.
The members of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) are currently meeting the Governors and traditional authorities across the seven regions of the country, which was started in Kerewan, North Bank Region.
The Deputy Governor of CRR, Ansumana Keita said it is democracy to be inclusive.
“One mind is not enough because each person is conversant in a particular area. Constitution is a document that spells out fundamental rights and freedoms of people.
“Now that we are involved in the review process, we will not blame anybody regarding the contents of the Constitution, the process requires critical and painstaking engagement,” he said.
Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, Chairperson of CRC said the national pre-consultation meetings target Governors and traditional rulers on the objective of engaging them on how they could participate in the process by bringing their communities along.
“This pre-consultation is really designed to create that partnership between the Constitutional Review Commission and our regional Governors and traditional rulers as well as representatives of other groups such as women and youths,” he said.
He confirmed that the review process will see the retention of some provisions in the 1997 Constitution while other clauses will be removed and developed.
“What makes this one different is the level at which we involve the Gambian people. We are putting Gambians first in this process making sure that the ideas that will eventually be reflected in the new Constitution is really not the idea of the eleven members of the Constitutional Review Commission. It will be the ideas of the Gambians both at home and abroad and that is the process we began.”
Jallow said this will make people to feel ownership of the Constitution.
Alhagie Serigne Faye, Chairman of National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) said his office is mandated to enlighten the Gambian populace on issues regarding the Constitution, Acts and other regulations in the country.
He said it is in line with this task, CRC thought it wise to involve NCCE in the crusade.
“Each has a role to play in this process irrespective of age and gender in order to ensure that it reflects the views and thoughts of everyone without discrimination,” he said.
He urged the chiefs to disseminate the information in their respective districts.
Amie Joof Cole, CRC Commissioner said the current Constitution has so many important clauses but it also left out some key provisions that need to be captured.
“There are several Gambians who live outside the country but their rights are not captured in the Constitution particularly their political participation. The new Constitution should also provide more freedoms for journalists to be able to do their work without hindrance,” Joof Cole told chiefs.
Meanwhile, Chief of Sami District, Alhagie Saikou Morro Jawla said the current Constitution has several problems because it does not contain the views and thoughts of everyone.
“Now that we want it to be inclusive and represent the views and thoughts of everyone, it should cover youths, women and men.”
We are building a house and we must build it strongly and must accommodate all Gambians. Changing constitution every time is not a wise decision. There are some laws in America that were never amended. We can do the same,” he said.
Jawla added: “We should try hard because rooms are built for the people and it must be clearly defined as to how all the people should be covered by this house, referring to the Constitution.”
Momodou Lamin Bandeh, Chief of Lower Fulladu West said everyone should be involved so that no single person be left out.
“Everybody is equal before the law and the Constitution should reflects that. Chiefs should be catered for very well too,” he said.
Chief Bakary Jam Jawo of Janjangbureh also called for the need of inclusiveness stating that, “we cannot carry our tasks without the Constitution.
“We are ready to answer and contributes anything on this Constitution.
Mr. Kebba Touray, Chief of Niamina East also stated that “the Constitution must reflect everything and must be respected by every person irrespective of who is the head. Each must be seen below the laws of the land.”
Yankuba Manjang, Commissioner representing the youths urged for effective youth participation at the level of regions and districts in the process. He urged chiefs to dispatch the messages to the grassroots.