Friday last, the 16th of November 2019, the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) published the first draft of the constitution after one and half year of work at a press conference held at its headquarters in Kotu. This is towards ushering in the Third Republic of The Gambia.
Gambians generally received the news of the publication of the first draft with a sense of hope and anticipation. Many are hopeful that, if approved, this constitution will marshal in a new era of hope in the areas of good governance, rule of law, respect for human rights, democracy and, economic prosperity ultimately.
Among the key features of this draft constitution which are being commented on, especially on social media platforms, is the inclusion of a two term limit of five years each. This, it is said, is to be whether the terms run sequentially or otherwise. This is highly welcomed by most Gambians as, for too long, the country has had a problem of longevity in the presidency.
Another interesting area people are talking about is on the issue of the removal of the simple majority rule which is now to be replaced by an absolute majority. This will require a winning candidate in a presidential election to secure at least fifty-one percent of all the valid votes cast in an election. Again, this will be another milestone if it happens to be approved.
However, the point of not specifically mentioning that the Gambia is a secular state is causing some angst in a section of society. Many would have wished that this is unequivocally mentioned so that it will be made clear, once and for all, that the Gambia does not belong to any particular religion; but rather, is a nation of all.
The ball is now in court of the Gambian citizens to scrutinize this draft and bring in suggestions on things they feel should be included, or excluded, so that the CRC may include them before it is submitted to the Executive, the National Assembly and finally to the public in a referendum.