Mixed Reactions Over Rejection Of Draft Constitution

In wake of the rejection of the draft Constitution by the country’s lawmaking body, more and more people are making their voices heard, revealing a deep divide within the country.
The former Secretary to the defunct Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), Omar Ousman Jobe, told this medium that Gambians were shocked to the core after learning that Parliamentarians across the aisle failed to make concerted efforts towards endorsing the draft Constitution.
Last week, a surprising turn of events dashed hopes for a Third Republic. While some people vehemently denounced the move and described it as “a betrayal”, others accused ‘political parties in dark shadows’ using the CRC as a Fifth Column to achieve their agenda.
Jobe, who has a firrst hand knowledge of the work done by panel members, made it clear that the process was very inclusive.
“I don’t think anybody can doubt that,” he added. “The National Assembly enacted the CRC Act, and the Commission had the opportunity to interact twice with lawmakers.”
He expressed regret about the fact that a referendum will not be conducted on the draft Constitution, insisting that ‘it was a good document.’
Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) leader, Mai Ahmad Fatty, who also spoke to this medium, expressed his disappointment, and said he was hoping that the referendum would have succeeded.
Fatty deplored the fact that people have been deprived from having the final say on the adoption or not of the draft Constitution.
He further stated that if a draft Constitution can be killed in Parliament, it means that Parliament has not only the right to scrutinize the document but also to usurp the unalienable rights and  sovereignty of Gambians.
Speaking from a legal perspective, Fatty confided to this reporter that the interpretation of section 226 was misconceived.
“I think the Ministry of Justice misinterpreted section 226 of the Constitution,” he said while indicating that the said section deals with amendments.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) – Africa Office Director, Pa Louis Thomasi, decried the fact that political partisanship has led to the rejection of the draft Constitution. He then faulted Barrow’s supporters for spearheading the decision to vote down the draft Constitution.
“It is very unfortunate,” he deplored. But he was quick to add:”They have ripped the draft Constitution apart, and we will have now to deal with the 1997 Constitution.”
Thomasi warned that the 1997 Constitution needs to be amended as it was tailored to suit former President Jammeh’s whims and caprices.
              Draft Constitution’s ‘Hidden Clauses’
“The Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) like many other Gambians are worried about the hidden clauses in the draft Constitution, and the more reasons some of the MPs voted against it,” said Deputy spokesperson, Dodou Jah, in a statement seen by this medium.
Jah blamed the drafters for having eroded some of the important powers of the people’s representative as reiterated the APRC ‘strongly supporting the non-passing of the draft Constitution’ by the National Assembly.
 A strong supporter of President Adama Barrow, Pa Njie Girigara, took a swipe at Mai Ahmad Fatty.
Girigara said the GMC leader is going off the rail as evidenced by the comments hz on non-passing of the draft Constitution.
He denounced the political jokeying being displayed by Mai Fatty, reminding him that he was a Barrow supporter.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Jabel Ceesay who called out Mai Ahmad Fatty, and reminded him that PPP and NRP are still in government.
Written by Abdoulie John
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