By Bakary Ceesay
State House, Banjul, March 30, 2020 – President Adama Barrow has said that the new Constitution, premised on strong foundations and all-inclusiveness, will provide a safe haven for all citizens to enjoy the path to peace, freedom and prosperity.
The President made this remark in receiving the draft new Constitution presented by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) at the State House on Monday.
The drafting process took the 11-member Commission, headed by Justice Cherno Jallow, under two years to consult, draft, review and submit a validated new Constitution to His Excellency, President Adama Barrow.
The exercise was meant to provide Gambians with a constitutional framework to enjoy their rights as citizens of the country.
“This springs off from the belief that every Gambian should comfortably relate to the Constitution, and that our institutions must be structured for sustained performance,” President Barrow said at a ceremony attended by Speaker of the National Assembly, Chief Justice of The Gambia and a cross section of Cabinet Ministers.
He added that it would promote and nurture best practices, as well as to maintain the country’s values as a nation.
“Accommodating our diversity allows us all to enjoy the fundamentals of democracy, freedom and the rule of law,” he maintained, noting that the new Constitution will allow Government to focus on development, and create the environment for all to enjoy their citizenship and realise their full potentials.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou described the submission of the new Constitution by the CRC as progress that is “most profound and satisfying” for him.
He said a number of Bills tabled before the National Assembly for enactment, on top of this new Constitution, will radically transform the legal landscape of the country, particularly with respect to the country’s criminal justice system.
“[It] marks another fulfilled promise to the people of this country. You promised a new Constitution within two years and you have delivered on your promise. It is now up to us, the Gambian people, to uphold our part of the bargain,” Aboubacarr Tambadou said.
In June 2018 the eleven-member Constitutional Review Commission was sworn into office and mandated to execute their assignment in two phases: First, to review the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and write a new Constitution; second, to prepare a report with regard to the new Constitution.
The CRC Chairperson, Justice Cherno Jallow reported that they adhered to these statutorily established functions and exercised their discretionary powers “in a fair and balanced manner”, bearing in mind at all times matters that it considered to be in the best interest and future of The Gambia.
“Constitution-building is a serious business,” said Chairman Jallow. “But it is also a herculean task, especially when the drafters of the new Constitution are confronted with tons of wishes and aspirations for inclusion in that Constitution,” he added.
Mr. Jallow said when President Barrow tasked them to review the 1997 Constitution, he was emphatic about the need to develop a Constitution that will serve the test of time. Hence they were grateful to be given both the strength and the commitment to achieve this for their country and as their leader expected of them.