By: Foday Manneh
The Chairman of The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO) in The Gambia, John Charles Njie, has urged deputies to accept the new constitution if it returns for debate.
John Charles made this appealing statement to lawmakers during a four-day training organized by the International Republican Institute (IRI) to enhance the capacity of National Assembly members for effective legislative oversight.
“We appeal to you, when the constitution comes again before parliament, express your opinions, disagree, but at the end of the day, please agree for the greater good of The Gambia. We need the constitution to push the agenda of the new Gambia forward,” Mr. Njie called.
A year after the change of regime in 2017, President Adama Barrow inaugurated a Constitutional Review Commission to review the 1997 constitution to draw a new charter of laws for the new democratic dispensation.
However, in September 2020, the new draft proposed to replace the 1997 constitution was rejected by lawmakers of The Gambia after a marathon debate over the document’s contents.
The draft constitution, which cost over D60 million, is the product of two and a half years of work to create a new progressive charter in a nationwide consultation with Gambians.
Meanwhile, Mr. Njie also called on the members of the civic society and the public to exercise more patience with NAMs in their quest to bring back the rejected draft constitution.
John Charles said the draft constitution failed to come out because members of the parliament refused to agree and move the process forward.
“Democracy is a complicated process. So, naturally, we will disagree to agree. But, amid differing opinions of honorable members, we want the greater good and the public interest to be more prominent than personal and political interest,” he added.
However, the TANGO boss said it is disheartening that civic society is often regarded as critics of the government or opposition members for what they do to improve people’s lives.
“We are not only critics, but we are also development partners. So when we criticize and call on public officials, we want what is good for our people,” he stressed.