Constitution-building is a serious business- CRC Chairperson

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: As the Constitutional Review Commission – CRC- submits the final draft of Gambia’s constitution to President Adama Barrow on Monday, chairperson Cherno Sulayman Jallow said the task is herculean, especially when the drafters are confronted with tons of wishes and aspirations for inclusion in that Constitution.

He said when the president tasked the commission to review the 1997 Constitution, he was emphatic about the need to develop a Constitution that will serve the test of time. He said that required them to take a serious look at key constitutional issues relative to the present and future generations. ‘In other words, what is best for this country today and going into the future so that both the present and future generations are governed by the same rules, and such that an amendment of the Constitution will only be necessitated by the most exceptional of circumstances.’

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) was established as per the Constitutional Review Commission Act passed on 13 December 2017 by the National Assembly and assented to by the president on 13 January 2018. It was established for the drafting and guiding of the process of promulgating a new Constitution.

In the execution of its function, the commission was mandated to seek public opinion; review the 1997 Constitution; adhere to national values; safeguard and promote issues of sovereignty; separation of powers, national unity; introduction of term limits, and continuance of The Gambia as a secular state.

The Act dictates that the Commission will be dissolved one calendar month after the date of enactment by the National Assembly of the Bill introducing the Constitution.

Chairperson Jallow said when the CRC published the first draft of the proposed Constitution in November 2019, it had 3 objectives; to give Gambians and other stakeholders the opportunity to determine whether the wishes and aspirations they expressed to the CRC during the first round of public consultations had been properly addressed and, where any of those had been omitted, for the CRC to explain its reasons for the omission (exercising the authority vested in it under the CRC Act); to afford further dialogue on matters that could be clarified better and ensure a better Draft Constitution and to invite opinions on new important elements that the Draft Constitution could usefully provide.

‘We achieved all 3 objectives and exercised proper discretion in that regard. The participants in the second round of public consultations were actively engaged with the CRC and our process of constitutional development was further enriched.’

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