By Omar Bah
A prominent Gambian pro-democracy activist, Jeggan Grey-Johnson, has urged voters to reject National Assembly Members who whimsically voted against the draft constitution.
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.
“The NAMs who deprived us off a third republic, by rejecting the new constitution, and relegated us to live by the dictates of the 1997 Constitution which was panel beaten into a vehicle of supremacy for the presidency…can never be trusted to do the right thing! … [A]nd we have the right as landlords of the House, to change the occupants,” Jeggan said.
While recently addressing a stakeholders’ conference on the next step in monitoring TRRC recommendations, Mr Grey-Johnson said a “pathway to attaining justice for the victims rests with citizens utilising the moment of change in the upcoming NA elections in April”. He urged voters to ensure that the people they send to parliament “are committed to delivering justice for the victims”.
The communications and advocacy officer at the Africa Governance, Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), said the constitution requires a two-thirds majority to call for prosecution of a former president.
“We only have one former president that is alive, Yahya Jammeh. So, if your NAM, or aspiring NAM is not interested in implementing the TRRC recommendations, kick him out, or don’t vote for him! Vote for the candidate that will make sure that justice and power are brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just,” he added.
This, he added, is critical, because a bad, ineffective, uncaring NA will deliver “injustice and will become a promoter of impunity”.
“The NA approves national budgets; they can kill the process, and undermine the very foundations where our pillars of justice are planted. Alternatively, a capable, caring and effective NA will ensure that the culture of impunity is halted. It will use its power to deliver what is just,” he advocated.