#Editorial

President: What a waste of money! 

Sep 28, 2020, 11:01 AM

Mr. President, Gambians both within and outside were disappointed to see the National Assembly Members throw away the draft constitution.

It was a very difficult moment and very sad to believe that over 116 million dalasi was just wasted like that. This money could have been used for development projects rather than just wasting it at this very crucial time of our country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which is hindering many progresses that should have been achieved as you stated in your statement at the National Assembly.

Mr. President, it is important for the NAMs to know that they are just representatives of various constituencies and were elected by the people.

They should have been fair to give chance to the whole Gambian population to have their say and opinions as none of them consulted their people before voting.

Mr. President, it is time politicians started looking at the interest of the country and not their own party or self interest.

Everyone believes that the voting was done based on party interest and not the interest of the country and if we are really serious about moving the country forward, then this selfish attitude has to stop. It is affecting the production and productivity of the country.

Mr. President, as the dust begins to settle after the monumental democratic tussle in the National Assembly between supporters and opponents of the Draft Constitution 2020 that resulted in the defeat of the Constitutional Promulgation Bill 2020 and the rejection of the Draft Constitution 2020, the Gambia remains standing at a crossroads and the coalition’s national transitional programme at a standstill.

Mr. President, you will no doubt recall that when The Gambian people went to the polls on that historic day in December 2016, they voted for two main outcomes; one of those outcomes was to remove dictatorship and the vestiges of dictatorship and two, to put the country on a firm footing to national transition that will restore democracy and the rule of law, after two decades of totalitarian rule.

Mr. President, you will also no doubt remember that these two fundamental aspirations of the Gambian people formed the central elements of the coalition manifesto and the convergent electoral platform, which brought seven political parties, one independent politician, with the support of civil society, which elevated you to power as the third president of the Republic.

In the heady days leading to the December 2016 election; when the Gambian people asked for change, you answered their call, when the coalition members demanded electoral reform you echoed their demands and when the country asked for a democratic transition, you championed their aspiration. Among several calls for reform of the polity, you promised electoral reforms, your government sponsored and promoted the idea of a new constitution and passed the Constitutional Review Commission Bill 2017, which set-up the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), mandated to draft a new and better basic law for this and generations of Gambians yet unborn; in keeping with the solemn aspirations of the people who ushered you into the highest office of the state.

Mr. President as head of state and government, the transitional processes, to all intents and purpose, is your brainchild. The constitutional review process is your initiative and the draft constitution is your draft constitution. Now that your brainchild has been rejected by the people’s representatives at the National Assembly, where do we go from here? 

As the country reels from the rejection of the draft constitution, regardless of the innuendos and the conjecture as to why the constitutional promulgation failed, the people now look up to you to restart the democratic transitional process, to give us a constitution that reflects the national aspiration for a democratic dispensation, one based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. President, one thing is clear to all and sundry: the 1997 Constitution is a consequence of the failed promulgation exercise and remains the country’s basic law; the constitution that you sought to change because of its glaring defects, in its current form will not bring democracy to the country and its people for obvious reasons. It will not give us Presidential Term Limit; nor give 50%+ that will guarantee majority government, the two key demands of the Gambian people.

Finally, Mr. President, as we search for a viable path to salvage our broken dreams and battered hopes for a new democratic dawn, the best and humble advice will be to restart the transitional process by subjecting the 1997 Constitution to a thorough facelift. Subject it to the democratic test and sanitise it by amending the offensive anti-democratic provisions that denies us Presidential Term Limit. Introduce a new elective principle of 50%+ that guarantees democratic Majoritarian rule. 

Bring a new Bill of Rights that will consolidate our human rights, press freedom and fundamental freedoms and repeal all the anti-democratic provisions that kept us subject to dictatorship for 22 years. 

Only by doing so, will you come close to addressing the long held aspirations of your people and restoring stability to a disappointed nation.

Good day!

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