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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

‘Parliament can bring draft constitution to itself if executive refuses’

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Nominated National Assembly member, Ya Kumba Jaiteh has said if the executive refuses to bring the Draft Constitution to parliament, a lawmaker or a committee can bring the draft to parliament.

Speaking as a panelist on the Paradise TV national discussion on the final draft constitution Saturday, Ms Jaiteh admitted it might have been an oversight for parliament not to give a time-limit to when the executive should take the draft to the House, but said there is an alternative if the executive drags its feet.

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“It is true that there is no time-limit for the president to bring the draft to parliament but who would have thought, given those circumstances why they wouldn’t want to bring the draft to parliament. I think for me it’s impossible; they have to bring it to parliament,” she said. “Another thing that people always lose sight of is parliament can bring this draft to itself. It doesn’t necessarily have to come from…the executive” Speaking on the actual process to this alternative draft tabling, Ms Jaiteh added: “There is a process of how this bill will come to life and that is in the 1997 Constitution. The constitution has made provisions on how you can repeal it or amend it or how you can amend certain provisions or entrenched provisions. And there is nothing in it that says it cannot be brought by a member of the National Assembly. It is the responsibility of the Legislature to make laws; we should never lose sight of that.”

She said parliament too can propose laws just like the executive, and in this case, it can always introduce the draft if it is necessary.
“Laws can be proposed by the executive but they can also be proposed by the National Assembly. So if in any case the executive says they are not bringing this to parliament, well the parliament can bring it to itself. That is very simple and straightforward. So if they decide not to bring it, one of us or a committee can bring the bill to itself,” she told Harona Drammeh, the host.

However, Ms Jaiteh, who used government’s failure to extend the state of emergency on Saturday as an example, said the draft too needs a three-quarter majority for it to go for referendum.

“Now the issue is the requirement for this bill to pass. If you’re watching the sessions today {Saturday}, I think we had a taste of this requirement, where you require 75% of the parliamentarians to vote for this bill to actually go to referendum. And that will be the test of the parliament; whether we’re going to have those numbers because even if we have a majority vote, it will not go to a referendum,” she said. “And about the electoral commission, someone mentions the timeframe; if they are ready. They will be forced to conduct an election once we refer this bill to them. They have to conduct a referendum within 6 months. That is in the constitution as well. So, the 1997 Constitution provides for how it is going to be repealed and that procedure has to be followed.”

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