Draft-Constitution Denies Kunta Kinte’s Off-Spring Citizenship!
Anthony Davis’s last-second pure-magic winner for the Lakers has been followed by a dreaded visit to The Gambia’s National Assembly Debate – and, surprisingly, it turned out to be much better than I thought. I think the debate was conducted with decorum, courtesy and articulately, and these are some of the points I took away:-
- The Constitutional Review Commission, chaired by a judge, has awarded judges Constitutionally-mandated and irrevocable huge financial rewards. NAMs took issue with this, in my view correctly. I would not be surprised if this idea came out of the Kenyan Constitution … my Kenya is one of the most corrupt and sickening countries in the world and the elite look after themselves while their fellow citizens literally starve. God save The Gambia from such greed.
- Citizenship denied to African children born in The Gambia – if their parents/parent is not a Gambian. The Gambia’s new Constitution makes such children born in The Gambia stateless! Sedia Jatta made an excellent contribution on this last week: “So, we go to UK or USA to have our babies there for citizenship when we even don’t live there, but we want to deny children born here citizenship – even if their parents have lived in The Gambia for 50 years”, asked Sedia. It seems that many NAMs agree with him that this is not correct.
- Kunta Kinte’s great-great grand-children from the USA met the CRC and made their case for citizenship in the new Constitution if they come to live in The Gambia, but the CRC ignored their request. I understand that Ghana’s law will allow them citizenship there – so they have an alternative destination.
- Separation of Powers seemed to be a genuine issue: “Why can’t a President have his/her own chosen cabinet without NAMs involvement?” seemed to be the question. The best support for that argument is that National Assembly members should be all elected … and they should elect the Speaker from amongst themselves.
- Speaker to be nominated! By whom? That seems a weird proposition from the CRC! NAMs should elect a Speaker from amongst themselves.
- The other sticking point seems to be that the Draft Constitution retrospectively includes President Barrow’s 1st Term in the 2-Term Limit. The 2-Term Limit is a good thing … but a Constitution targeting an individual directly has become a bone of contention.
If the Draft Constitution is not approved …
Lawyer Lamin J Darbo, writing in Kerr Fatou, thinks that the NAMs have all the authority they need to amend the Draft as they see fit. He writes:-
“By every rational yardstick, the idea that the NA is bereft of competence to touch the Draft in any way is an incomprehensible proposition. The legislative domain denotes the core competence of the NA and given the Constitutional provisions earlier referenced, it has the competence in law and doctrine to make appropriate amendments to this Draft.
Indeed, the meaning around the legislative jargon of Third Reading is another authoritative demonstration of what the NA can do with this Draft. It can debate and amend as necessary before the ultimate vote at the end of the Third Reading.
And how about the end product!
“A recent comparative study undertaken by the United States Institute of Peace of nineteen constitution-making processes observed that of those processes that used commissions, these bodies did not seem to produce a better result than those using a constituent assembly or parliamentary drafting committee with experts…”.
With what the CRC ultimately produced, we know that very well in The Gambia.
It may be a long and tedious process but only a Draft amended by the NA may save this project of a hundred and sixteen million Dalasis and counting.
The chickens are truly home to roost but the knives of the Solons may save the Draft!
They have the Constitutional right to remove the excess fat from the Draft.”
Lamin J. Darbo