By Omar Bah
The main opposition UDP spokesperson, Almami Fanding Taal, has blasted The Gambia’s last legislature for frustrating the country’s transition after they rejected the draft constitution that would have ushered a third republic.
In September 2020, Gambian lawmakers rejected a draft constitution to replace the 1997 Constitution. The document, which was designed to help reform the country’s governance system, could not secure enough votes as 31 NAMs voted in favour of the bill to be passed while 23 rejected it.
“A minority in the house of representative was able to frustrate the hopes and dreams of the majority of Gambians already consulted on the type of constitution they want,” Taal said.
He argued that since 2017 neither the government nor Civil Society Organisations have convened a national dialogue to help forge a consensus for the ‘New Gambia’.
“The closest the Gambia came to an open conversation post dictatorship was the BBC Africa Debate held at the Kairaba Hotel in March 2017. High hopes for economic transformation were dashed and our leaders have failed to put in place measures both to create livelihood opportunities and to distribute political power more broadly among all the people by decentralisation,” he said.
Since then, he added, ‘all we hear are political statements like ‘respect for human rights and the rule of law’, while recommendations from the Truth Reconciliation Reparations and Commission Report are half-heartedly implemented at the expense of the victims of the brutal dictatorship.
“With zero institutional reforms, massive unemployment and raging inflation ordinary Gambians are asking where is the change; where is the New Gambia and what has Gambia decided on 1December 2016? The stalemate in the constitutional renewal process is not rigorously covered by our media, and not prioritised by our development partners and is being ignored by the elected arms of our government, namely the Executive and the Legislature. How to break this logjam should be the concern of all our compatriots because we must demand from all our leaders a commitment to democratic constitutionalism,” Taal said.
He said Gambians must urge our leaders to come together and design a process that can bring justice, peace, and prosperity to our homeland. “Constitutional and electoral reforms that the late Solo Sandeng courageously campaigned for, which led to his arrest, torture, and death and to the arrest and imprisonment of the senior leadership of the UDP including the Secretary General and Party Leader Lawyer Darboe in April 2016 is still pending,” he said.
Taal said evidently there are no real champions for institutional and electoral reforms so that the Gambian Diaspora can finally fully participate in the elections of The Gambia.