CRC calls for calm over absence of secularism in draft

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By Omar Bah

The chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission has once again called for calm as discussions around the non-inclusion of ‘secular’ in the draft constitution continue to draw controversy.

The CRC boss was speaking at the first meeting of the commission’s current feed back collection tour in Banjul where the matter dominated discussions.
Whiles thanking the CRC for what he described as a ‘brilliant’ work in producing a progressive draft Constitution, Louis N. Mendy, a native of Banjul called on the Commission to revisit the draft Constitution and ensure that secularism is captured for the sake of peaceful co-existence in the country.
Moses Sonko also raised concern over the same section which deals with the sovereignty of the country.

He said the Commission should explain under which provision they relied on to remove ‘secular’ from the 1997 constitution.

“The country’s religious groups should be treated equally. If government is allowed to fund Madrassas, they should extend the same to Christian Missions,” he added.

However, the CRC chairperson Cherno Sulayman Jallow who seemed worried that the discussions centred around religion, said people should not let their emotions run high.
“The CRC has no intention to favour any religion. My wife is a Muslim but most part of her family are Christians. So, really it makes no sense for the CRC to draft anything that will divide this country. We should be very careful about what we say or write about,” he told the Banjul meeting.

The CRC chairperson said no matter how strong laws are, bad leaders can always change them.
Justice Jallow challenged Gambians to share their genuine opinions to help the commission shape the final draft before submitting it to the President. “This is your moment and the only opportunity you have to shape your constitution”.

The CRC vice chairperson, Lawyer Awa Sey Sabally, reminded the audience that the Commission is not out to defend what is in the draft constitution. She called on Gambians to thoroughly read the provisions in the draft to enable them make informed decisions.
Omar Touray, deputy mayor of Banjul expressed disappointment over the turnout at the meeting, arguing that the new Gambia should start reflecting on the daily deeds of Gambians. The CRC consultation continues today with a meeting at Essau.