By Nelson Manneh
The Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow said the CRC is working hard to finalize its assignment and they hope to finalize the Draft Constitution and the accompanying Report to formally submit it to the President no later than March 2020.
The Chairperson of the CRC made these statements yesterday the 27th, January 2020 in a press conference held at the CRC main conference hall in Kotu.
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), was tasked by Government to review the current 1997 Constitution and come up with a new one for Gambians, that will stand the test of time. The 1997 Constitution suffered several amendments by the former regime of Yaya Jammeh and therefore an Act of the National Assembly was passed to empower the Commission to come up with a new draft Constitution. The Commission has 18 months to review, draft and deliver a new Constitution for Gambians.
Justice Jallow said after the Draft constitution was published, the CRC dispatched copies of the draft constitution to all the Regional Headquarters to enable the people to have access to the document and have adequate time to review it and submit their feedbacks.
“We also undertook a series of consultations informing the public about the provisions of the draft constitution and soliciting feedbacks that would help the commission prepare a final draft for the Republic of The Gambia,” he said.
The CRC Chairperson said during the second round of nationwide public consultation in November 2019, meetings were held in 13 communities from the 7 Administrative Areas of The Gambia.
“In all the communities, the CRC ensured that the Local Government Authorities were availed with adequate advance copies of the Draft Constitution to facilitate public access and to allow Gambians to familiarize themselves with the proposed provisions and subsequently provide feedback to the commission,” he said.
He said by the end of the two weeks public consultation in the communities they met 3,011 Gambians in the 13 communities.
“Apart from the public consultation we received written submissions on different provisions in the draft constitution. a total of 198 submissions were received from Government institutions, Civil society organizations, International Organizations, Religious bodies, Non-Governmental Organization, individuals and private sector,” he said.
Justices Jallow said the commission also held face to face meetings with the 3 Arms of Government to bring them up-to-date on public opinions relative to the Draft Constitution and also to discuss specific issues connected to their areas of responsibility.
“The Commission also met with the Gambia Christian Council and the Supreme Islamic Council to discuss their submission on the Draft Constitution and to encourage dialogue between the leaders representing both communities in the wake of the intense debate on secularism,” he said.
He said they are in the process of finalizing the review of all the submissions they received as well as preparation of the final Draft Constitution and the accompanying Report on the process adopted by the Commission, which will be submitted to the President in accordance with the CRC Act, 2017.
“As with every constitutional development in any country, the final product will never satisfy every view and opinion canvassed, constitution development is effectively a negotiation process of give-and-take. It can never address all issues,” he said.
He continued: “In our case here in The Gambia, we had put in place a very robust transparent, inclusive and participatory public consultation process whereby every citizen and other stakeholders had the opportunity to make a contribution,” he noted.