On Constitutional Reform: Letter to the Constitutional Review Commission’s Chairman. As per the call for contributions by your noble and respectable institution (Constitutional Review Commission) on constitutional reform, I the undersigned write to sincerely file in my input to the constitutional building process as a sovereign citizen of our dear motherland; so that, at the end of the day, we will come up with a document as a nation-state that is a true reflection of our needs and aspirations and consolidate our traditional and democratic values. Please allowed me to first commend the commission for the pubic consultations, dialogue, and interface strategies that was crafted to make sure all Gambia, regardless of country of residence, geographical location, age, gender and tribe, and physical health status have a part to play in the constitutional building process. Bravo to you and your staff. Below, is my contribution: APPOINTMENTS: DIRECTORS OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES AND HEADS OF OUR SECURITY APARUTUS. An independent technical body should be responsible for the appointment of the directors of public enterprises and heads of security apparatus which shall be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny and approval or otherwise. The president should never be allowed to have the constitutional right to appoint them so that self perpetuation and self serving governance will be history. There should be a red line that will prohibit eroding the constitutional distinction between state and party. It is clears that due to the monarchial, almighty and supreme powers given to the president to hire and fire heads of these very institutions, crates the atmosphere of political patronage in appointments. The head of the security apparatus since appointed by the president was use and will be still use as instruments of intimidation by the president against the citizens to advance political agendas. CHIEF JUSTICE, GOVERNOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK, AUDITOR GENERAL AND CHAIRMAN OF THE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION These chief administrators should not be solely appointed by the president, but should be subjected to both public and parliamentary scrutiny and approval. The president should nominate them and be subjected to parliamentary approval and any dismissal of these heads should also be subjected to parliamentary approval otherwise as well. This will not only allow credible and competent people to run these offices, but will also allow their security of tenure. The political executive will not have any room to manipulate these institutions to advance their political and self perpetuating agendas. REGIONAL GOVERNORS Regional Governors as head of local governments should be elected to ensure their security of tenure and prevent them from the influence of the political executive in using them for political mobilization to win election to the expense of local development. The regional governors when elected should also act as the chairmen of area councils. The office of the chairman of council as per the recent system should be abolished. 4. CHIEFS AND ALKALOLU The appointment of chief should be restored to traditional lines. The president should not be allowed to appoint chiefs to avoid influence. Members of the district tribunal should be appointed by the judiciary service commissions. District tribunal should also build by government to avoid adjudication in chiefs’ residence. The appointment of alkalos should be on traditional lines. ABASSADORS AND HIGH COMMISSIONERS Ambassadors and high commissioners should be nominated by the president and also be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny for approval or otherwise. The president should not be solely responsible for their appointment. This will put a stop to political appointments to foreign representatives whose positions are technical. Those responsible for the extension of our domestic polices beyond our jurisdiction as a country need to be mastery of their arts, but when square begs and put in the round holds through political appointments, it will reflect back home. Malaysia, a country that we gained independence in the same years, small as we are, and have less natural resources as we do were able to use their technical foreign offices to engineered their rapid development; we cannot as a country if these position are base on political appointments. INVOLVEMENT OF YOUTH IN DECISION MAKING PROCESS The political space of the country should be open for to the youths. The minimum age requirement of any elective and non elective position must no taken beyond the youthful age not only in commitment to the international instruments Gambia is a signatory to; such as the African Youth Charter or the Banjul declaration, and Abidjan Youth Declaration, but will also bridge the gap between the government and youth. It also fully creates the space for the youth to actively participate in national development drives. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT TERM LIMIT: There should be the introduction of presidential term limits of two (2) terms of five (5) years each and after the expiry of term, he/she should be prohibited from re-running as president and this should be ENTRENCHED in the constitution so that the president will take the development of the country seriously. QUALIFICATION: The academic qualification of the president should be a university degree and this must not be a degree acquired online. The president as the chief administrator in additional to good character and attitude, should be competent and knowledgeable to take the country forward in terms of competent representation of the people in the international community and to technically oversee the performance of states institutions independently in addition to technical support from other technicians. PROVISION TO PROHIBITE MINISTERS, THE PRESIDENT AND OTHER SENIOR PUBLIC SERVANT FROM OWNING A BUSINESS. The president, senior civil servant, head of public enterprises, and minister should be prohibited from owning or having shares of a business to help minimize corruption and allow them to concentrate more on the development agendas of the country. NATION ASSEMBLY There should be term limit to the national assembly of two (2) terms of five (5) years each. The president should maintained the constitutional powers to nominate the five national assembly members, but this nominated members should from venerable groups in the society such the differently able persons , the youth and women. Their nomination should be recommended by their line bodies that is; National youth Council, women’s council and Gambia federation of the disabled respectively. In addition, national local languages should also be including in parliamentary proceedings in additional to English language so that sovereign citizens who don’t understand English language shall have the chance to know what transpires in parliament to be able to hold parliamentarians accountable. There should also be a sign language interpreter in the national assembly to interpret for our brothers and sisters who are unfortunate to hear. ELECTIONS Presidential and parliamentary election should hold in the same day, to allow parliamentary scrutiny of nominated candidates for ministerial positions and other presidential appointments. We should also change to paper ballot system in conduct of our elections. PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION OF ENVIROMENT There should be laws that will restrict land grabbing by the rich and real estate companies. Currently most of the farmlands especially in Kombo East are turned in estates. Mangoes and cashew gardens in the countries are disappearing in high speed. These have adverse effect to our climate, our flora and fauna, as well as threaten the food security of the country. There should be laws that will ban strategic areas in the countries like farmlands, coastal areas to be turned in settlement. Farmers should also register their farms land legally to make sure the only use their farmlands for farming. Finally, this is my short and precise recommendations to your respectable institution as a sovereign citizen of the republic of the Gambian. I am confident and I believed that with the opportunity you availed to each Gambian to participate in this constitutional building process , we will together as a country craft a document that represents our needs and aspirations Thank You! Yours in service of the republic, Signed Bairo ]]>
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By Alagie Manneh The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been pushing for greater transparency and accountability in its programmes and activities designed to...
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