Gov’t says process to reactivate constitution could start before end of 2022

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Justice has told lawmakers the government will start engagement on the process of reactivating the failed draft constitution before the end of the year.

In 2020, Gambia’s lawmakers rejected a draft constitution to replace the 1997 constitution. The document which was to help reform the country’s governance system could not secure enough votes at the national assembly. 31 National Assembly members voted in favor of the bill to be passed while 23 members rejected the new draft constitution. The government was however heavily criticised for allegedly orchestrating its failure.

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But addressing NAMs’ questions raised on the State of The Nation Address, Justice Minister Dawda Jallow said: “The executive is committed to bringing the Draft Constitution. It is just a matter of when but we are working towards ensuring that it happens. The president and his government are committed to bringing back the draft constitution. I have the task of making this possible and I can inform you that hopefully before the end of the year there will be some engagement with respect to reactivating the constitutional promulgation process.” He said it is the position of the president that the country should have a new constitution.

On diaspora voting, Minister Jallow said the government is very committed to diaspora voting, adding that it is catered for within the overall electoral reform process and part of it is included in the Elections Bill which is before the National Assembly.

“But if the Draft Constitution succeeds it would introduce some novelty in our electoral laws. So, if we have the draft constitution passed and a new election Act, hopefully the issue of Diaspora voting will be sorted out. I can assure you that the executive is very positive in making Gambians living in the diaspora be able to vote,” he said.

Anti-corruption bill

Minister Jallow said the government has not withdrawn the Anti-corruption commission bill, saying it has been at the Assembly for more than two years.

“Unfortunately, I missed a sitting of the National Assembly, I think that was the last session of the Fifth Legislature because there was some breakdown in communication but the Anti-corruption bill was not scheduled for the day and a general decision was made for all the bills that the ministry of justice had before the Assembly be rescheduled. So, the Anti-corruption bill as far as we are concerned is going through a legislative process,” he said.

He said now that the Speaker has ruled to allow all the uncompleted bills to be reintroduced, his ministry is now considering engaging with the committee responsible to know whether they have to reintroduce it all over again to complete its journey.