By Alagie Manneh
Despite National Assembly Members voting to reject the draft constitution, the chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission, has insisted that it may be comatose but not dead and buried.
Speaking at the commission’s final press conference yesterday, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow said the constitution making process only “hit a snag and [has been] placed in cold storage”.
He expounded: “Let’s not despair. The draft constitution that Gambians worked so hard on, expending invaluable time, energy and resources, is not dead: it has merely hit a snag and is placed in cold storage, at least for now. So, if anyone here today feels depressed, I say to you, lighten up, get up and dust off, have faith, and continue the quest for constitutional reform in The Gambia. That is what Gambians have yearned for and you must complete the journey with them.”
Justice Jallow said the commissioners have discharged their mandate in a professional and non-partisan manner.
He added: “In the very few areas where we have departed from [some people’s] expressed opinions, we advanced our reasons for doing so. The overwhelming response countrywide was one of great satisfaction. In fact, many said to us: “What is in the proposed draft constitution is what we said to you, do not change anything.”
He said the CRC could never have drafted “a perfect” constitution that would suit all.
“As far as the CRC is concerned, the draft constitution, with all its perceived shortcomings, represented the sovereign will of the Gambian people sought through public considerations in accordance with our terms of reference as outlined in the CRC Act of 2017.”
Justice Jallow who spoke for an hour, was visibly emotional as he noted: “As a nation, we should collectively remain optimistic and work towards what is best for this country. When in trying, we fall, we should get up, dust off and proceed on the positive journey of national development. We must work together in unison and avoid spewing venom the result of which can only result in negative consequences.”
He later condemned the “tiny majority of critics” who accused the CRC of plagiarism.
“The CRC, with its team of experience draft persons and international consultants/drafters, has not given any credence to such claims [of plagiarism] and essentially view the claims as merely stoking emotions to back up the critics’ rejection of the draft constitution. Indeed, there have been those that never said anything good of the CRC from the time of its inception. For them, it was personal.”