#National News

ADRA concerned about recent rejection of draft constitution

Oct 9, 2020, 11:37 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

As debate over the recent rejection of the draft Constitution Promulgation Bill 2020 continues, members of Afrikan Diaspora Returnee Association (ADRA) have added their voice and disappointment over the recent rejection of what would have been the new draft constitution of The Gambia.

The African descendants made this disclosure on Monday at a press conference held at Chestnut Hill’s Apartment and Restaurant along the Brusubi highway. 

Descendants of Africans, whose ancestors were forcefully captured and taken away to the new world, have demanded that the new draft Constitution shouldn’t have been thrown away, saying the bill has made provision for them to acquire citizenship in the country by reducing the 15 years waiting period.

These African returnees said their grandparents, who were taken and enslaved by Europeans 400 years ago were unable to return and so they are completing home-coming the circle.

Jeanette Brown, secretary of ADRA said the association was registered and has people with skills and experience.

“The members have been running for many years since its establishment in 2018. This is why we want to come to Africa. It is here that we belong,” she said.

Brown indicated that by looking at their skins, one would obviously know that they belong to Africa.

“We have engaged government and other stakeholders by demanding for citizenship in the country, but we are yet to be recognised,” she said.

“We are Africans. We want to come home and settle with our families,” she added.

The new failed draft constitution; she said, had reduced the 15-year long wait period to acquire citizenship, as stated in the 1997 constitution.

“The 15 years is too long and it means when we came here as returnees, we’ve to wait until 15 years and that could be quite long for some people,” she added.

“So what we suggested was a shorter period than the 15 years” she noted.

The ADRA, she continued, was setup to support African returnees coming home from abroad, saying the association has been extremely successful in meeting its aims and objectives over the years.

 “We are working on strategy right now to find a solution, because rejecting the whole draft constitution is not favouring the entire country, but they could have rejected some parts, but not everything. We are not asking for automatic citizenship but we are asking for fast track and reduction as 15 years is too long.”

Shakina Chinealu, head of legal issues, said ADRA is grateful to the CRC for not only giving them the platform to raise their concerns, but also for supporting their suggestion by including their citizenship in the constitution.

Keisna Daniel, media coordinator, also expressed similar sentiments. For her, it has been a very long time working for ADRA lobbying for citizenship.

“We feel very privileged that we achieved so much for the benefit of our members. Of course we were very much disappointed that the draft constitution is rejected by the lawmakers, that we would continue with our strategy to gain citizenship before having to wait for 15 years.”

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