By Yankuba Jallow

The people of Jokadu District have insisted that the Chieftaincy should be an elected position.

This was disclosed at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) meeting held in Kerr Jarga Jobe village in the Jokadu District. The people said the New Constitution should see to it that Chiefs are not be appointed by the President.

“They should be elected by their people, and be answerable to them. The Chieftaincy should not be left for individual families to occupy it but every eligible Gambian. The president should not choose for us who to lead us,” they said.

Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow head of the CRC delegation, received a unanimous positive response after asking the people their opinions on certain issues he raised.

Some of the topical issues raised by Justice Jallow were:

  1. Should anyone vying for the Presidency, be a degree holder;
  2. should there be term a limit of 10 years for the presidency;
  3. should Chiefs and Governors be voted into office;
  4. should 35 years be the lower age limit and 65 years the upper age limit for the presidency;
  5. should the election of president and national assembly members be conducted on the same day;
  6. should the President form groups or associations and or engage in any form of business, etc.

These were some of the questions the people unanimously agreed to and endorsed that anyone vying for the Presidency should be a degree holder; that there must be a term limit to the presidency; that Chiefs and Governors should be voted into office and that there should be a lower and upper age limit to the Presidency.

Yama Gaye, villager of Kerr Jarga Jobe said the marble system of voting should be maintained and preserved because it is unique in the world and belong to only the Gambia, and it is the best most transparent system of voting you cannot find anywhere.

Gaye suggested that the new Constitution should make provision for the central government to support local governments in terms of finance, to function efficiently and effectively.

Ali Saine of Kerr Omar Saine, suggest that the new Constitution allow the president to receive gifts only in the interest of the nation and not for his personal interest. Ousman Jobe of Kerr Jarga Jobe said the Constitution should make provision on issues of driving licenses.

“When our licenses expire in December, we wait for over a month before we renew them. We wait from January 1st to 31st, before we receive our licenses. We want this to be addressed by the new Constitution,” he said.

Alagie Gaye of Kerr Alagie Karu, said the new Constitution should make provision for the country to continue with the marble system of voting that is unique only to the Gambia.

Almost everyone who spoke, said the new Constitution should make provision for the president to have the powers to appoint the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), and make provision for the establishment of a Health Service Commission. They called for the new Constitution to make provision for the Chairperson of the IEC, to declare his assets before assuming office.

“Our hospitals do not have enough medicines. The only thing the hospitals do is to prescribe medication for us and refer us to the pharmacy to buy them. Most of the hospitals do not have enough personnel,” they told the CRC.

Mbaye Mama Jobe of Kerr Jarga Jobe, the representative of the village Alkalo said the new Constitution should reduce citizenship by marriage to two years; that any person born in The Gambia should be allowed Gambian citizenship, and that citizenship by naturalization, should remain 15 years in the new Constitution.

Ebrima Jobe, the auditor of the Village Development Committee (VDC) of Kerr Jarga Jobe, said the new Constitution should make provision for the Public Service Commission (PSC), to be responsible with the appointment of the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). On the issues of death penalty, Jobe said this should be critically looked into, by the new Constitution.

“Any person who kills intentionally, should be killed but for persons who kill unintentionally, should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Jobe continued that the new Constitution should open opportunities for Gambians in the Diaspora to vote.

“Citizenship by marriage should be automatic. That is as soon as the marriage has been made, the non-Gambian should be entitled to acquire citizenship automatically,” Jobe said.

Yero Chun from Kerr Alasane Chun also opined that, the new Constitution should make provision for the Chairperson of IEC to declare his asset before assuming office, and for a Teaching and Health Service Commissions (TSC and HSC respectively), to be established. Momodou Ceesay said the new Constitution should make provision that will not allow prisoners to vote because they are not clean; but that Gambians in the Diaspora, should be allowed to vote.

“Citizenship by marriage should be made automatic with the new Constitution. We should have HSC and TSC so that issues affecting health and education will be addressed by those commissions,” he said. Momodou Sillah of Kerr Omar Saine said the new Constitution should make provision for HSC and TSC.

Ali Sallah, the Imam of Kerr Amadou Faye said the new Constitution should maintain the death penalty and entrenched the Law. Imam Faye also opined that citizenship by marriage should be automatic whilst citizenship by naturalization should be maintained at 15 years.

Mariama Secka, the women’s leader in Kerr Alagie Karung village, said the new constitution should make citizenship by marriage within a period of at least 2 months.

“We face challenges when we go to hospitals for labour. Women are asked to pay extra fees because they are non-Gambians. We want the new Constitution to address this problem,” she said.

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