By Omar Bah
A Belgium-based Gambian PhD candidate, whose research focuses on the December 2016 presidential election and the fall of Yahya Jammeh, has shared his thoughts with The Standard as the debate surrounding the constitutional impasse rages on.
Jimmy Henry Nzally, widely known for his youth works, development cooperation and a radio presenter, said: “The current civil and political discussion on the draft constitution is a clear demonstration of The Gambia turning a new page away from dictatorship. It is now incumbent on the current government under President Adama Barrow to fulfill this long desired promise. If the draft fails to pass, he and the government are to blame. As it stands right now, all fingers are pointing at him as our leader.”
“It would be utterly hypocritical for anyone to blame anyone for the current stalemate. We all know that majority of the parties have always supported and campaigned for the draft to pass in the assembly but it was President Adama Barrow and his sympathizers in the assembly who threw it out and even celebrated its defeat. If anyone should be blamed, it has to be President Adama Barrow. a the case maybe – it is Barrow and his government that are accountable for this constitutional impasse. First, he failed to honour his 3 years agreement, hijacked the coalition and went after his opposition or resistance groups such as the 3YRS Jotna. Now that he has successfully formed his own political party, if the rules do not change all of these are clear signs that he is hell-bent on imposing his rule on Gambians.”
In September, Gambian lawmakers rejected a D116 million draft constitution to replace the 1997 Constitution. About 31 National Assembly Members voted in favour of the bill to be passed while 23 members rejected the draft.
It was voted out by former UDP lawmakers who publicly declared their support for Barrow, NRP, APRC and some nominated NAMs. All the UDP, PDOIS and GDC NAMs voted ‘yes’.
However, months down the line the Barrow government seems to have taken a new interest in the document and had turned to mediation specialist and former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan to find consensus on the draft ahead of its planned return to the National Assembly.
But all his attempts, which included coming here on three occasions and flying political party leaders to Nigeria, have failed to produce a consensus. The political parties could not agree on the retroactive clause of the [president’s current] term and the method to reintroduce the draft constitution to the National Assembly.