By Alagie Manneh
President Adama Barrow has yesterday revisited his campaign promise for the introduction of a two-term limit in the Constitution of The Gambia.
“The [new constitution] document should protect the citizens against governments entrenching themselves and undermining the desire and will of the people,” the President said during the inaguration of the constitution review committee at State house.
“Such protection would allow governments to focus on development, rather than consolidating power to abuse the rights of the citizens. In addition, the Constitution should create the environment for all to enjoy their citizenship and realise their full potentials.
“In this regard, as a citizen, I hold the view, as some other Gambians do, that a two-term limit for all Heads of State of the Republic should be entrenched in the new Constitution.”
He defined it as an important task, “considering the urgent desire to provide Gambians with the constitutional framework to enjoy their rights as citizens.”
The President said the day marks another “milestone” in efforts to put The Gambia on a path to peace, freedom and prosperity with strong constitutional foundation.
“When we came to office last year, I made it clear that Gambians had learnt an important lesson from the 2016 Presidential elections in which they realised and used the constitutional power vested in them to root out dictatorship. Before that event, our collective experience was one of suppression and bitterness; hence, the journey to regain our freedom and democracy has been risky and difficult,” he told the gathering.
According to him, Gambians have been “badly hurt,” because the bedrock of the country’s democracy had been “shaken and tampered with,” calling on the new members of the Constitutional Review Commission to work to redress these wrongs permanently and come up with a constitution that will “stand the test of time”.
Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, the chairman of the Review Commission, while committing together with his colleagues to live up to expectations, asserted: “The constitution is about the people of the Gambia.
While we may have our personal opinion on issues and various subject matters, it is not what we hold that really matters at the end of the day, it is what the people think. Our responsibility is to facilitate those discussions with the public to ensure their views are properly taken account of, the issues are properly rationalise and a proper constitutional document is prepared and presented to His Excellency at the end of this exercise.”
Chief Justice Hassan Jallow called on the Review members to ensure the process is a “truly consultative one”.
“… [We] must ensure the product we have at the end of the day is truly a people’s constitution, reflecting their views and aspirations,” he said.
Justice Minister Baa Tambadou, also called on the Commission to give back to the Gambian people a constitution that will “last a thousand years.”
The 11 members are: Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow; Hawa Mboge Sisay Sabally; Janet Ramatoulie Sallah Njie; Fatoumata Jallow; Amie Joof Cole; Salimatou Touray; Gaye Sowe; Lamin Camara; Yankuba Dibba; Dr Melville O George; and Yankuba Manjang.