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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Justice minister denies ‘conspiracy’ to defeat draft constitution

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By Alagie Manneh

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice has denied being part of a “grand conspiracy” against the Gambian people hatched by the State House to defeat the draft constitution.

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The minister and President Barrow specifically came under severe attack following the rejection of the draft constitution, with political observers denouncing the minister’s “lackluster performance” on the floor of the assembly as evidence that he and Barrow never actually supported the draft.

However, speaking on This Week in Politics anchored by Esau Williams, Dawda Jallow first rebuked former interior minister Mai Fatty, who accused him and Barrow of “executive complicity” in the bill.

“Well, first of all, he is not the only person who expressed opinions about my performance either in support or against. What matters to me is this was a highly politicised matter. I am not a political figure and I tried to maintain a neutral ground as much as I can. If somebody feels that was an underperformance, I should have done better, well, that is their opinion,” he said.

The minister said because of the bill’s politicsed nature, “minds were already made up” and that no amount of convincing would have worked.

“They were very determined, those who wanted to oppose it. I did what I thought I could have done in that material moment,” he defended his actions.

He said the draft bill was much more complex than ordinary bills, and explained that:

“This is a national document that has a lot of political connotation, a lot of interests are at stake, and as AG that is tabling such a bill, in my view, you don’t have to involve yourself too much into the politics of it.”

Asked if those high ideals outlined by his predecessor in March as he submitted the draft constitution were not worth fighting for during the tabling of the draft, Mr Jallow said: “Of course, yes, but whether everybody believes the way the document is will lead us to those ideals is something else. That’s why I said people have formed opinions around it and some people are of the opinion that this is not that document that could lead us to those ideals. And, what do you think I could have done about that?”

The minister however said he accepts that the country’s march into the future is now frustrated by the failure to pass this bill.

“It is frustrating, yes, for now but I don’t lose hope completely…”

He also submitted that he, too, like a lot of other Gambians, is worried about the failure of the draft constitution.

He said: “I am [worried]. I am really concern because this is a project that we all believe should have ushered in the third republic; it failed. Of course, some people would want to blame one another but I want to be part of the solution. I still believe there are genuine Gambians who are willing to come together to find a solution. I want to belong to that group. Let’s examine what went wrong…”

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