By Awa Macalo
A group of concerned Gambians, The Patriots, have vowed to embark on a massive peaceful protest against the rejection of the draft constitution by lawmakers.
The National Assembly last month shocked the country after 23 lawmakers voted against the D116 million draft constitution which was supposed to usher in the Third Republic.
“We are planning to hold a peaceful protest if we are granted a permit by the Inspector General of Police. The date for the protest will be communicated to the masses soon. But even if they refuse to give us a permit, we will continue raising our voices until our concerns are addressed,” the group’s SG Tamba Camara told journalists at a presser last Saturday.
The group said they could not understand why the few lawmakers rejected the draft constitution, which represents the overwhelming views of the Gambian people.
“It is our conviction that the National Assembly members who voted ‘no’ did it at their own volition and not in the interest of the people or whatsoever.”
He said the government and those lawmakers who rejected the draft should understand that the very people who go against voted them into office.
“It was a blatant and barbaric conspiracy of the executive and the legislature to throw the 2020 draft constitution into the dustbin. The same government that promised to reform the country’s institutions and construct a new constitution is now frustrating Gambians and trying to play with our intelligence,” he claimed.
The plans to repeal the 1997 constitution was triggered by the fact that it was doctored at least 50 times with new laws brought that are deemed unfit under a democracy.
“The 1997 constitution only favors the presidency, legalized brutality, impunity, extra-judicial killings, disappearance, incommunicado, frauds and silencing of the mass. It is disappointing that Barrow would be comfortable working under such bad laws,” Tamba said.
He claimed that the reason for the rejection of the draft constitution “is to deny citizens their basic rights and to promote corruption. But they should be assured that the dumping of the draft constitution will not go unchallenged. They will have to bring it back. This is the overall demand from Gambians.”
“We are planning to embark on a nationwide tour to sensitize Gambians as to why they shouldn’t allow the draft constitution to die. We will try to seek a national consensus to compel the president to bring the draft back to the National Assembly,” he said.