EU Diplomat Says New Constitution for Gambia ‘Mother of all Reforms’

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Corrado Pampaloni, Ambassador of the European Union to The Gambia

By Sanna Camara

Corrado Pampaloni, Ambassador of the European Union to The  Gambia, described the draft of the new constitution rejected by the Gambia parliamentarians in September 2020 as the mother of all reforms that have been taking place in the country since 2017.

Speaking at a gathering of friends of the European Union on the occasion of Europe Day, 9th May 2024, in Banjul, the diplomat said the passing of this constitution would have reflected a “renewed democratic Gambia” – ensuring a balance of powers, accountability, the respect and promotion of human rights and its related freedoms.

Unfortunately, the draft Constitution, the result of two years of expert committees of legal minds constituted by the government of Adama Barrow and hundreds of millions of Gambian Dalasis as a national project, failed to garner the right percentage of votes in the National Assembly to pass to the second reading in September 2020.

According to Ambassador Pampaloni, sounding upbeat about the prospects of new efforts aimed at bridging differences between various political stakeholders, the government’s and others’ relentless efforts shall culminate in a vote by the National Assembly, to be followed by a referendum.

The European Union has put a further GMD68 million towards fresh efforts aimed at fostering consensus among National Assembly members on contentious issues that previously led to the draft constitution’s rejection on 22 September 2020. This represents the commitment of the EU to an “inclusive and participatory” approach in the constitutional reform process, said the Ambassador.

“This new Constitution will eventually consolidate a governance structure that will enable all Gambian citizens and society altogether to flourish,” he assured, noting he wants to firmly commend all current efforts and concrete steps taken by the government in advancing these key governance reforms; and to reassure of the EU’s unyielding commitment in accompanying The Gambia to a successful closing of all of the reform programmes currently ongoing.

Gambia’s lawmakers have rejected a draft constitution to replace the 1997 constitution. 31 National Assembly members voted in favor of the draft constitution bill, while 23 opposed the new constitution. In order to make it to the second round of reading and passing through that crucial legislative process, the 1997 Constitution that it seeks to replace requires that the draft constitution bill garner two-thirds of votes of the national assembly—something it has not succeeded in doing due to various contentious issues.

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