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Deputy Speaker and Minority Leader Advocate for Unified Approach to Draft Constitution

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Honorable Seedy Sk Njie, The Deputy Of The National Assembly And Alhagie S. Darboe Minority Leader

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

The Gambia’s Deputy Speaker, Hon. Seedy SK Njie, and Minority Leader, Hon. Alhagie S. Darboe, have called for national unity in revisiting the rejected Draft Constitution. They emphasized the need for all stakeholders, including political parties, religious leaders, and citizens, to engage in open discussions and address contentious issues.

This call to action was made during the National Dialogue and Consultations Forum, presided over by His Excellency President Adama Barrow at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo, on Friday.

The call came after a resolution passed by the thematic area focusing on the political environment for sustainable peace and stability, advocating for the restoration of the Draft Constitution to its original form.

Deputy Speaker Njie emphasized the necessity of addressing the reasons behind the initial rejection of the Draft Constitution by Parliament. He highlighted various points of contention, including religious, political, and governance issues, stressing the importance of frank discussions among political, citizen, and religious stakeholders.

“There are key issues, various people in terms of religion, disagreed, politics we disagreed, in terms of management we disagreed on governance and on the structure of the Draft Constitution. If we believe that this National Dialogue Consultative Forum that we are launching today is for anything to go by, we must look at the Draft Constitution as it was rejected and frankly come out as political stakeholders, citizens, and religious stakeholders, and look at contentious issues,” Hon. Njie highlighted. 

Njie stressed the high threshold required for the Draft Constitution’s passage in Parliament, which necessitates a unified approach from all political, religious, and traditional leaders.

“It needs a national consensus of all actors and stakeholders, all the political parties, all the religious leaders, and the traditional leaders must agree if we don’t do a proper consultation, we will not get a Draft Constitution,” Hon. Njie said. Echoing similar sentiments, Minority Leader Hon. Darboe emphasized the importance of political parties reaching a consensus for the Draft Constitution to pass in the National Assembly. He underscored the need for broader consultation and awareness among civil society to foster understanding and support for the Constitution.

“It is not in the Parliament that the bill was rejected, but it was well rejected before it was laid before the parliament and if we want to re-introduce it, and if we want it to be passed, let the political parties among themselves have consensus whatever they resolve to, that is the language we will communicate to in the National Assembly,” Hon. Darboe said. 

While acknowledging the lesser threshold in the National Assembly compared to a referendum, Darboe advocated for increased consultation and awareness among civil society to garner support for the constitution.

Furthermore, Darboe addressed misconceptions surrounding the term “secular,” advocating for a clearer understanding and facilitating the smooth passage of the constitution both in the National Assembly and at the referendum.

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