Jerejef Justice Cherno! Reflections on the Draft Constitution
By Basidia M Drammeh:
It’s an honour to join my fellow countrymen and women to congratulate the able Chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Justice Cherno Jallow and his team for drafting such a progressive Constitution for the Gambia.
Public reaction to the draft Constitution has been overwhelmingly positive for it meets many of the people’s aspirations. A document that stands to herald the Gambia into the third republic and outlines its roadmap probably for generations to come, the draft Constitution has further enhanced rights and freedoms. It also stipulates term-limits for the President, empowers the National Assembly to put checks and balances on the executive authority. The Independent Electoral Commission has been renamed as Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IBEC) which ensures universal suffrage. The draft Constitution clearly separates the three powers to ensure that power is not concentrated in one arm of Government. It also downsizes the Cabinet to reflect the country’s economic reality and emphasizes that its composition reflect the country’s diversity. Under the draft Constitution, the number of ministers should not exceed fifteen and their appointment should be subject to Parliament’s confirmation. The AntiCorruption Commission has been empowered to scrutinize the finances and properties of holders of public office, including the President, to ensure integrity and translucency.
To prevent the politicization of associations, the draft Constitution stipulates that ”No association, other than a political party registered under or pursuant to an Act of the National assembly, shall sponsor candidates for public elections. Earlier this year, the President has been criticized for failure to address the Parliament at the commencement of the year so the draft constitution addressed that issue by making it mandatory for the Head of State to address the Parliament no later than March. Overall, the draft Constitution is impressive.