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Sunday, June 26, 2022

AG: Draft constitution failed because politicians were not given their due

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By Tabora Bojang

Justice minister Dawda Jallow has said the 2020 draft constitution was rejected because politicians, who were supposed to decide it, were not given due consideration in the process.

“Soon after the draft constitution was rejected, we realised one mistake which I am not blaming anybody for, but I think as a country, we focused too much on the document we wanted and we did not pay much attention to the process of how we get that document approved and that is the political process. Inasmuch as citizens or different stakeholders said they want so and so in the draft constitution, it is the politicians at the helm that will decide whether this constitution will see the light of day or not and we did not give them the required role and so we failed in the process,” Dawda Jallow told the National Assembly human rights and constitutional matters committee yesterday.

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Since the sensational rejection of the draft constitution in 2020, opposition politicians and other Gambians have accused the president of masterminding the rejection because the document bars him from contesting for two more terms. These allegations were also exacerbated by the failure of justice minister Jallow to sway parliamentarians to support the constitution when he had the opportunity to do so.

According to the AG, the Abuja constitutional talks brokered by Goodluck Jonathan had availed him opportunity to understand the position of some  political parties.

“Some people believe that the executive has no right to change even a letter in the constitution and they made similar campaigns when it came to the National Assembly and in the end, we now lost the baby. So, could we have allowed the executive or the National Assembly to edit one or two small things? But here is a constitution and you are telling them don’t change anything, pass it as it is. That is why some [politicians] say if they are not going to change anything, then they will not support it because there are things in there that they don’t like. When we bring the political parties together, being the ministry in charge of the draft constitution, I have realised that some political parties themselves don’t like certain things in the document. And some that were presumably in support of the draft started saying they don’t like so and so and they were able to come together and adjust it. So, we have got it adjusted but we have to take an informed position whether it is going to come in that format or whether it has to be subjected to another popular delayed and consultation processes but government is committed in bringing it back,” the minister disclosed.

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