Gambians have demanded for the introduction of a presidential term limit in the country’s new constitution as practised in most developed countries.
Speaker after speaker from Jokadou during the National Council for Civic Education and Constitutional Review Commission tour of regions has urged the team to consider presidential term limit in the new constitution.
Staff of the NCCE and CRC are currently touring the country to prepare and set the ground for public consultations proper across the country.
Those who called for the introduction of the term limit believe it will minimise leadership crisis and enable people to play their role in national development.
Speaking during one of the meetings in Salikenni village in Central Badibu, Foday Trawally said the new constitution should clearly capture term limit for president, adding that in elections, simple majority should be maintained because in most cases second round elections are marred by violence.
He also called for supplementary voters’ card registration to be maintained as witnesses are always present to ensure non-Gambians are not given voters’ cards, saying voting should be introduced in selecting chiefs.
Nfamara Dibba, a native of Darsilami village in Jokadou also called for the introduction of presidential term limit, saying once term limit is introduced it will force anyone occupying the post to work hard and not to abuse their power.
However, Mr Dibba discouraged the idea of president appointing Chief Justice and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson, adding that once the president did these appointments, he has control over them.
Meanwhile, the women of Chamen in the Central River Region-North, have also urged Commissioners of the Constitutional Review Commission to draft laws that will make education free for Gambians all the way to University level.
“I urge Commissioners who are tasked to review our Constitution to introduce a free education law and pass it at the National Assembly for our children to have a better education as many parents find it difficult to meet their educational needs,” said Kaddijatou Bah.
She said the CRC has taken the right direction at a right time, to move the country’s development forward; that they feel joy to receive such an important delegation from CRC, to educate them.
She raised concerns over the lack of participation of her fellow women; that without their contribution, the country cannot move anywhere; that their ideas or contributions to rebuild the nation’s Constitution will not benefit the present generation alone but will continue to benefit every generation that comes after.
Halima Touray-Cham highlighted the importance of these meetings conducted by the CRC and NCCE to educate them about the constitutional review process.
An 18-year-old Ndey Cham, a student at Kaur Upper Basic School, also commented on free education. She also called on Commissioners, NAMs and relevant authorities to look into the education system of the country.
The councillor of Chamen also spoke at length about CRC’s commitment to review the Constitution and called on the people to listen and fully participate when the commissioners visit them.
“Our attendance to this meeting is very important. Let us open our minds and ears and listen to them,” Councilor Edirissa Ceesay said. “What CRC said here is very clear to everyone. Come out and contribute in this great moment,” he said.
Raky Cham in the same settlement said whatever CRC says or builds is for the benefit of all Gambians. She also urged the people of Nianija to put aside their political differences and work on the country’s development.
Speaking At Buduck Nianija, CRR-North, the chairman of NCCE Sering Faye told the gathering about acquiring Gambian citizenship. He then asked whether that person should be required to renounce any other citizenship he/she may have, or hold dual nationality. He told them that that those answers should be given to the commissioners.
“Therefore I want you to give answers to the Commissioners who will soon face you all. Sit in groups and share ideas so that you will know what to say or not to say,” he advised.
Dawada Yorke, the chief of Buduck said that this campaign conducted by CRC to review the Constitution is historic.
“My people, this is not about politics and neither have they come for political campaign, but it’s a matter of our own Constitution. The mission of CRC and its co-partner NCCE was to move forward.”
NCCE on death penalty
Speaking in Illiasa, Upper Badibu district, Ansumana Yabou, NCCE Officer said the abolition of death penalty will entirely depend on the Gambian people, adding the answers to whether it should be maintained or not should be given to the Constitutional Review Commissioners.
“Prepare to submit your answers to this and other issues you want to be included in the new Constitution, when they come to take your contributions and ideas that you want to see changed in our national laws,” he told the listening crew.
Mr Yabou also reminded the communities that the 1997 Constitution is not owned by former president Jammeh “but the Gambian people”.
Kunkung Saidy Bayo, NCCE’s Senior Programme Officer, said a Constitution cannot be made without the contribution of the people it is intended for; that the people should come forth and share ideas; that another team will be facing them soon to seek their contribution on how and what they want to be reviewed in the new Constitution.
“It gives people the opportunity to express themselves and contribute to the making of the Constitution. They will give their versions and suggestions so that the final end product will be everybody’s idea,” he said.
Nogoi Secka, a female contributor said they need to be careful with the review process, especially when it comes to women’s affairs; that the contributions and ideas we are going to make as a people should be able to protect and take care of even “our great grand-children.”