Coronavirus May Impact Referrendum On Gambia’s Draft Constitution

The Gambia’s Justice Minister has cautioned that the “Coronavirus pandemic and the measures adopted under the state of public emergency will inevitably have a significant impact on our ability to follow timelines and meet deadlines. This will have serious ramifications on other related activities we had anticipated in the course of this year such as the new voter registration exercise or the referendum for the adoption of the new constitution.”

Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said this development could have impact the country’s constitution building process. “There are no immediate answers to this conundrum at the moment but we will have to find ways around these unexpected turn of events in order to meet the expectations of our countrymen and women,” said Minister Tambadou. “More information will be shared with the general public as we consider possible alternatives.”

Mr. Tambadou made the statement at the submission of the Gambia’s draft new constitution.

He said “today marks yet another significant achievement” of Barrow administration, which has fulfilled “another promise to the people of this country. You promised a new constitution within two years, and you have delivered on your promise. It is now up to us, the Gambian people, to uphold our part of the bargain. Like all constitution building processes, not everyone can or will be satisfied with everything in the new draft constitution. But we are faced with a clear choice: we either embrace this new draft which is being presented here today in whole and lay the foundations for a better future for our children, or get stuck in the past with the current 1997 constitution and all its retrogressive provisions that will frustrate our democratic march into a better future. I am certain that the Gambian peoples’ thirst for change remains unquenched and I am confident that they will embrace this new draft constitution after sober reflection.”

Mr. Tambadou praised the Constitutional Commission Council commissioners “for their outstanding professionalism, commitment and dedication to national duty. Mr Chairperson, we have keenly followed the progress of your Commission right from the beginning, partly because we funded it, and we have been impressed by all your efforts to ensure that the credibility of the entire process, from beginning to end, remains sacrosanct. But this does not come as a surprise given the character of the members of the Commission under your distinguished leadership including experienced legal draftspersons and human rights lawyers, media practitioners and civil society representatives. With this team, we were always confident that we will have a constitution that will faithfully and accurately reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people.”


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