Barrow has said he shares the view as some other Gambians do, that a two-term
limit for all heads of state of the republic should be entrenched in the new
Constitution set to be drafted.
The mandate of this Commission is to review the 1997 Gambian Constitution and to craft and submit a draft Constitution for the Third Republic based on due consultations with Gambians.
Speaking at the swearing in of the 11-member Constitutional Review Commission this morning at State House, President Barrow further urges Gambians to uphold their sovereignty as a nation, and devise a framework that suits their circumstances.
After attaining independence from Britain in 1965, The Gambia had a Republican Constitution in 1970. In July 1994, former President Yahya Jammeh suspended that constitution and brought in the 1997 Constitution which witnessed numerous amendments within two decades’ rule.
In June 2017, the Ministry of Justice convened a national consultative conference to discuss the constitutional reforms for a ‘new Gambia’. In this event, some 500 participants were drawn from across the country to discuss a way forward. The outcome consensus was that the country needed a new constitution since numerous amendments would be required to bring it up to international standards of good governance.
The president told the commission members that the new legal document should protect the citizens against governments entrenching themselves and undermining the desire and will of the people.
“Such protection would allow governments to focus on development, rather than consolidating power to abuse the rights of the citizens. In addition, the Constitution should create the environment for all to enjoy their citizenship and realise their full potentials,” he said.
He said when the coalition government came to office last year, Gambians had already learnt an important lesson from the 2016 Presidential elections in which they realised and used the constitutional power vested in them to root out dictatorship.
“Before that event, our collective experience was one of suppression and bitterness; hence, the journey to regain our freedom and democracy has been risky and difficult,” he noted, adding that the move is crucial to the efforts to put the country on the path to peace, freedom and prosperity with a strong constitutional foundation.
Attorney general and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou said the event was a fulfillment of another election promise made by the president in 2016. “Five of the 11 members are women, while youths and diaspora have all been represented in accordance with government’s empowerment policy,” he said.
Mr. Tambadou challenged the Commission to produce a Constitution that accurately reflects the aspirations of the Gambian people and Constitution that would last a thousand years.
Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow explained that the task the Commission is embarking on will set out a framework for Gambian citizens and residents and “how we relate with each other in peace and harmony.”