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City of Banjul
Friday, August 14, 2020

Constitutional and law reform suggestions

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By Jarga Kebba Gigo Setting term limits for presidential candidates will help reduce the personalisation of parties. If you run two terms under a party, you can campaign but not lead the party. This will help us minimise possible costly second rounds, build robust party constitutions and recruiting mechanisms, encourage tolerance and forming of coalitions on the first round. Also, the Constitution should have a clause that forbids party leaders from becoming cabinet members through shady coalitions in second rounds. Encouraging parties is good, demanding absolute majority is good, but coalitions should be through proximity of principles, not pressure marriage of convenience for personal gain. Many are forming parties to be ministers through coalition deals, not to be president. A coalition parliament is problematic, but a forced coalition cabinet is even more problematic. Such coalitions can reduce progress citizens merit and in some countries it can lead to instability that constitutions can help avoid. The constitution should protect the voice of the people, taxpayers, and the conscience of an elected MP from party dictatorship. No party leader or committee should be able to dismiss an elected Member of Parliament, causing taxpayers unnecessary by-election costs. Partisanship is not helpful and no constitution should make room for it by allowing the kind of possible dismissal in the current Gambian constitution. Like the people must patiently wait when they ‘wrongly’ vote for a person, a party must wait if irreconcilable differences emerge after nominating a candidate… ‘Wrong doings’ of an MP should be dealt with in national , not not party courts. You can dismiss an elected MP from a party, but not from parliament. To reduce political prisoners and other forms of abuse, the constitution should provide ‘new age’ prison transparency and promote prisoner rights. A website should list the names of all prisoners, top one to three charges they are found guilty of, and an optional video of the trial and post conviction video of the prisoner of why s/he believes the constitution or law is abusive, wrongly applied. A limit of one hour on the video. Like every good, some will forward excuses why it may be bad idea like ‘privacy’. The constitution or law can make it optional at the trial level. The possible good of this idea can be a lengthy book – human rights organisations and activists can have thumbnail picture of how many political prisoners exist, how many are imprisoned for each form of “drug” related crimes versus corruption, homosexuality, and others. Like people plead guilty at times, the post trial video can be one minute of “am sorry”. The post-trial video can give the poor unpopular prisoner the opportunity to gather worldwide support if s/he is innocent or over punished. The trial video is an option for the government to rebut claims of dishonest convicts and government can always make post-trial video as well. The cost of implementing such is very limited, cameras are ever getting cheaper to equip every courthouse with cameras, and servers for hosting are on similar realities. We must remember every single person in prison is a potential victim of the citizens that empowers the government, so we have a responsibility to check if changing politicians are not abusive. The new constitution of The Gambia should demand online publishing of new laws, not just “gazette publishing”. Gambians abroad have the right to know new laws from a reliable government website to combat fake news and ignorance of the law. Giving the president the right to nominate certain number of members of parliament is more of an absurd disrespect of democracy than a form of illusory ‘honour’. Parliament is partly to check the powers of the president and cabinet, so allowing the president to choose who checks the powers of the president and his/her cabinet is simply an insane tilting gift. No matter how much you like the present president, leaving it in the constitution is risking to over power future presidents you may dislike. “Early retirement laws for women in the Gambia” is gender biased, against investor interest, taxpayers’ interest, character improvement, and national interest. A woman who was ‘poorly’ working at a publicly funded institution allegedly feared she was to be fired, and therefore chose early retirement on the grounds of ‘taking care of husband and family.’ The truth is we can under cater, rightly cater, or over cater for women in the name of kindness, but often ignoring how it may hurt women and others in the long run. The law or constitution allegedly says ‘any woman who serves ten years’ can opt for such early retirement. If feminist Trudeau and Ms Clinton hire equal men and women in the Gambia, pay maternal leave, cater for ‘cultural absence by women than men’, then demand better character, only for some women to choose early retirement, s/he will know how ‘kind’ such laws are. A smart investor who knows this law will avoid investing in The Gambia as ‘bad governance’ or avoid hiring women. The hard working men and women who pay taxes, including the women who are ever unemployed but buying taxable products should not be forced to pay such ‘dubious women’ who may open a legal or unregistered business thereafter, and never properly take care family. She may become a lesbian thereafter and the West will fight for her, then call her a “heroine”? Maternal leave is enough, for the sake of the children, says the humanist. Those who complain taxes are high or where our taxes go, allowing such laws to continue explain part of the problem we face. Since Barrow avoids his old friends who use medical marijuana like myself, I am appealing to the world to urge him to stop the cruel political laws designed to get him votes or other questionable moves. I believe the constitution of The Gambia and any smart country should be gender independent, not ‘gender sensitive’. The evolution of verifiable history started with culture, religion, then law or government. If we honestly study the cultures that were gender sensitive leaning, they tend to produce weak women and weak societies. A similar reality resurfaces with religion oriented societies, because religion under rectifies the wrongs of culture. The age of governments shows gender independency brought more development than gender ‘sensitive’ countries. Most of the gender sensitive leaning countries are doing it for votes and money… but hardly at the constitution level. The problems of the Gambia is deeply rooted in over sensitive culture towards women, which in return often harm women than many think. Now some Gambians are calling for gender sensitive culture in our constitution in vague terms, including forcing parties on gender balance… A great constitution should be gender and race neutral, gender and race independent; intelligent (mental) and truth leaning, not emotional and ‘kindness’ leaning. This is part of the reason the Recitation gave us the signs that on the final judgment day, ‘a husband cannot help wife, nor a wife help a husband…’ Women can do lot more than many think if demanded intelligently. Over ‘protecting’ women led to cruelty like FGM in the cultural days, but how terrible can you claim non-FGM women and societies are beyond sex? Saudi Arabia is a perfect example were over ‘protection’ of women through religion influenced governments led to direct conflict with the recitation and common sense. False favours are often with good intentions, but life is lot more than intentions. Like the US, I see lot more Gambian women in universities than men, which is a mixed blessing, but I won’t recommend the rectification at constitutional level. Also let us remember that leadership and life require a lot more than formal education, without disrespect. www.Jarga gigo.]]>

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