By Yankuba Jallow
The Constitutional Review Commission continues to meet Gambians and to get their views on the proposed new Constitution. In Buduk and Kaur in the Central River Region (CRR), the people unanimously insisted that the new Constitution should make provision for the local languages of the country, to be introduced as the means of communication between members.
“Our National Assembly members should use our local languages when speaking at the National Assembly. They went there to represent us. So we have the right to hear all that they say on our behalf,” said Ousman Bah. “The members of the National Assembly should be allowed to speak in any of our local languages of their choice,” said Hamidi Touray. “Not every person can understand or speak English. We want local languages to be introduced at the National Assembly,” Ndama Bah said. “All the local languages in the Gambia should be allowed to be used by members of the National Assembly,” said Kebba Touray. The people of Buduk emphasized in their contributions, that the president of the republic should not nominate any member of the National Assembly. “A foreign person who wishes to acquire citizenship through naturalization, should denounce his former citizenship before acquiring that of the Gambia,” said Yusupha York of Buduk.
On citizenship, the people of Kaur said any person born in the Gambia, should be a Gambian regardless of the status of their parents. But the majority of the people of Buduk opined that they should not be granted citizenship.
“In my opinion, any person born in the Gambia to non-Gambian parents, should be a citizen,” said Mba Jammeh Sillah of Bakadaji village.
“If a person is born in the Gambia to non-Gambian parents, they should be accorded citizenship if both parents are holders of residential permits,” said Kajali Sillah of Bakadaji.
As usual, the people in the two communities said that the new constitution should make provision for: a) a two term-limit of 10 years for the office of the president;
- b) the president, chairman and commissioners IEC, vice president and ministers to declare their assets;
- c) the death penalty to be maintained;
- d) the president to be a degree holder;
- e) political parties to disclose their sources of funding and to issue financial statement;
- f) the marble system of voting to be maintained;
- g) the establishment of a health and teaching service commission;
- h) free education from the lower basic to university level;
- i) the president to disclose gifts to the National Assembly;
- j) and the 50+1% of the total votes cast to be introduced before a person can be declared the winner of presidential elections or else they should go for second round elections.
“The president should only stay in office for 10 years. If the president over stays in office, it leads to dictatorship. He should be a degree holder in order to enable him to lead us effectively and efficiently,” Sulayman Darboe of Kaur said. “The president should be a master’s degree holder,” said Modou Suso of Kaur.
“Chiefs and Governors should be elected by the people,” the majority of the people said. “Chiefs should not be appointed by the president because this makes them to be partisan,” the people said.
All the people from Kaur and Buduk told members of the CRC that Alkalos should not be elected.
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) is headed by Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow. The Commission was established by the Constitutional Review Commission Act 2017, to review the 1997 Constitution and to prepare a report thereafter.