By Nelson Manneh
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), on Sunday 2nd December 2018, engaged the people of Pakaliba and surrounding villages on the reviewing of the 1997 Constitution.
Commissioner Lamin S Camara in his deliberation, explained to the people of Pakaliba village, some of the issues in the 1997 Constitution. He cited the death penalty in the 1997 Constitution as one of the issues that need consideration from the people. ‘‘Do you want it to reflect in the New Constitution or not? The citizenship is also here. How do you want it to reflect in the new Constitution,” he questioned? He explained the issues of Alkalos, Chiefs and Governors, and asked how they want their appointment to be in the New Constitution. “Do you want diaspora Gambians to vote? What of the term limit to the presidency? What is your suggestion and contribution on this?” he questioned.
Sanna Darboe a farmer in Pakaliba village, said farming is “nothing now in the Gambia.” “We the farmers are the poorest people in the country. Government should consider us by establishing a Commission on Agriculture, to improve our lives,” he said.
Darboe said citizenship is very sensitive, and needs to be treated carefully; that those whose parents or one of their parent’s is born in the Gambia, should be granted citizenship. “Those whose parents are non-Gambians but spend more than fifteen years in the Gambia and have children, should be granted citizenship,” he said.
Habsa Ceesay a woman and villager of Pakaliba, said the new Constitution should make provision for a Health, Teachers and Agriculture Commissions. “Our fate is in Agriculture. When we harvest our groundnuts, it is difficult for us to sell. Farmers are not empowered. The Agriculture Commission should be established to empower us,” she said; that disable people should be considered. “They do not want to go to the streets to beg, but they have no choice. Government should establish a Commission to look at their affairs and empower them,’’ he said.
Prior to the Pakaliba meeting, the CRC engaged the community of Dalaba where Hawa Sama, a native of the village in Niamina East in the Central River Region, said the new Constitution should make provision for the president to stop appointing the Auditor General and Governor of the Central Bank; that this can corrupt the system of Governance and the economy, if the president is corrupt.
‘We all know how our leaders are. They will always want to secure their positions at all cost,” she said.
Commissioner Fatoumatta Jallow in her interaction with the villagers of Dalaba, said the issues of appointing and dismissing Governors and the Auditor General, has been captured in the 1997 Constitution. “Our mission is for you to give your suggestion on how you want the new Constitution to capture them. This is your contribution,” she said; that the new Constitution belongs to all, and they have the right to make suggestions on how they want it to be.
“Looking at the 1997 Constitution, the Law on the death penalty clearly states that if one takes the life of another, the person should be killed. Do you want this to reflect in the new Constitution or not? The Law on citizenship clearly states, likewise the issues of the Alkalos, Chiefs and Governors,” she said.
Commissioner Jallow with other commissioners present in the meeting took their time to explain to the people of Dalaba village some of the sensitive issues in the 1997 constitution.
In response to some of the issues raised by Commissioners, Musa Ceesay a farmer in Dalaba village said the death penalty should be captured in the new Constitution.
“The issue of appointing Alkalo has been done by tradition in our village, as in many villages in the country. We do not want our Alkalo to be appointed by the president or by election,” Ceesay said.
He added that Chiefs and Governors should not be appointed by the president, but should instead be elected by the people of the district and Region and should be natives of that particular district or region.
Yesterday December 3rd 2018, the CRC engaged the community of Japineh and Missira villages in Jarra Central, in the Lower River Region.