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Former Vice President Says 1997 Constitution Is “Subjective”

Dr. Isatou Touray, Former Vice President of The Gambia.

By Landing Ceesay

Former Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray said the 1997 Constitution is “subjective” and not “objective”.

“It is very nice to talk about the Constitution and some of its loopholes. But remember the 1997 Constitution is subjective, not objective. Why was the women’s issues not taken from the word go? Why wasn’t it inclusive in the Constitution? Why didn’t it take care of the rights of youths? Who told you that a 25, or 35-year-old can lead a country whether you are a male or female? So, these are the issues of the Constitution,” she told journalists.

However, the former Gambian Vice President  said the rejected draft Constitution in 2021 has a “very good plan for gender equality”; and they are still working on in order for it to become a total bill of rights for women of the Gambia.

Dr. Touray said when the draft Constitution becomes the supreme law of the country, all other laws would be a subset to it.

“What we need to do now, is that we have a constitution (the draft) we hope that it will come back and it should come back. Because the country cannot run without a proper Constitution. We have to ask for it. We have to raise awareness about it. So that it is brought immediately for discussion in order to steer the affairs of the state and the whole country.

“I urge all of you to come together to start looking at some of the issues that are raised here to give us some hints to look out of the Constitution. What are some of the additions that we need to put in! and make sure that it becomes a bill of rights for women and being transient to our generation and even 200 years to come. That’s the purpose of a constitution and I think we should all work towards that and ensure that we get it right. Because it is a gender debate you have all that I called exuberance. That exuberance sometimes makes us lose. So we have to be strategic and know how to deal with it in order to move forward,” she said.

Touray said there should be careful peruse of all rights in the country and said talking about patriarchy doesn’t mean a fight against men.

“We have to look at women’s underrepresentation at the decision-making level. We have to understand the dynamics of what is happening. Then draw up a plan, a plan that will look at the problem in a human rights-based approach, an approach that looks all-inclusiveness. The right of women, the rights of men, the rights of disability and all other forms of rights are important so that we build a just society. It is not a fight against men when you talk about patriarchy. We know patriarchy is systemic and it has different manifestations depending on which context, which culture and how it is being interpreted in our various societies,” Dr Touray said.

The former Vice President made the remarks on Tuesday at a press conference organised by the United Nations (UN) in promoting women’s leadership in politics.

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