EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA:-Gambia’s United Democratic Party (UDP) has been accused of causing a major setback as the country’s political leaders gets back home from Nigeria without consensus over the embattled draft constitution.
Leaders of 15 political parties have Monday left the country for a 3-day dialogue in Abuja with Goodluck Jonathan, who is the chief negotiator in finding a common ground amongst the political parties.
They have however arrived back in Banjul on Thursday evening with no breakthrough and UDP is said to have been the cause of the stalemate.
The Administrative Secretary of National People’s Party (NPP), Mambanjick Njie, said the Abuja talks was unsuccessful because of UDP.
“In relation to the retroactive clause in the constitution, all the parties that were in the negotiations agreed and accepted that it should be expunge from the draft except the UDP,” he told reporters as they arrived at the Banjul International Airport.
“We have agreed on all the major issues except the retroactive clause and the UDP believe that even in relation to the issues we have agreed on, they don’t believe that the Ministry of Justice should table it before the National Assembly. They believe that it is the National Assembly that should make the changes,” he said, noting that UDP has given reasons why the retroactive clause should be there.
The so-called retroactive clause in the draft constitution would have condemned President Adama Barrow to just another new five-year term in office. Barrow’s camp believe that the term he is serving shouldn’t count and therefore the clause should be omitted.
The leader of UDP, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, disagreed and said in a tweet on Thursday that the right to change the constitution belongs to the people.
“This is the people’s constitution and it is only the people who have the right to make any changes to it.”
UDP has also rejected the manner in which draft should be submitted at the National Assembly and wants it to remain unaltered when taken to parliament.
To the leader of GDC, Mama Kandeh, the disagreement in the draft constitution could have been solved by Gambians without foreign mediation.
“I feel that we shouldn’t have a mediator from the beginning that comes from outside,” he said, adding that the government called for a foreign mediator because they believe that they can’t convince anyone.
Hon. Kandeh believe that “there is room for discussions” refuting the earlier report that the talks have collapsed, saying it’s too early to called it off.
Defending their Nigeria trip, he said: “One thing should be made clear. Gambians should appreciate our position. We are there and anywhere in this world to represent Gambia and Gambian people.”
The political leaders hope to find a new consensus before Jonathan’s March 8 visit to The Gambia.
The planned March trip would be Dr. Jonathan’s third visit to The Gambia since December 2020 to support the process of building national consensus.