By Ndey Sowe
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) on Thursday April 25th 2019, held a press conference on the Commission’s past engagements and upcoming consultations with Gambians in the Diaspora.
The press conference was headed by the Chairperson of the CRC Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, at their office at the ‘Futurelec’ Building in Kotu.
On External Consultation:
As part of its mandate to seek the views of Gambians across the board, the CRC Chairperson said the Commission will begin external consultations shortly, beginning in Africa and the Middle East; that the process came following several months of discussions with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice (under whom the CRC assignment falls) who as always, continues to be very supportive of the work and efforts of the CRC; that Government sees it as invaluable that Gambians living overseas, should be afforded the same opportunity of public consultation for them to be able to contribute their quota to the Constitutional development process.
Chairperson Jallow strongly believes that every opportunity and platform available, should be rolled out to afford Gambians both at home and abroad, to enable them be part of the national dialogue on Constitutional reform; that external public consultations will commence on Sunday April 29th 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, and on 2nd May 2019 in Nouakchott, Mauritania; that another public consultation is planned to take place around the same time in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, on 2nd May, 2019.
‘‘Our Embassies and High Commissions in these jurisdictions have been working tirelessly, along with the able assistance of our Foreign Ministry, to facilitate the convening and conduct of the planned public consultations,’’ he said.
He said the external consultations are expected to continue in June 2019 in Europe and North America in selected counties and states respectively, where there is a concentration of Gambians; that in Europe, the CRC expects to engage Gambians in the United Kingdom (London), Germany (Berlin), Sweden (Stockholm), France (Paris) and Spain (Barcelona), whilst in North America, the CRC will engage Gambian communities in New York City, Washington DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis and Raleigh.
He said in order to ensure efficiency in the conduct of the external public consultations and frugality in cost, visiting CRC teams are divided into two, with each team led by the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson; that they have made it possible to have the presence of the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson or both.
‘‘We are fully aware that an exercise of this nature will cost money and indeed a serious and comprehensive Constitutional review process could never be cheap. The internal country-wide public consultation cost a total of D13.4M. The detail of the cost relative to the external public consultations is in progress, and we expect to be in a position to provide an actual cost once those consultations are concluded,’’ he said.
On Past Engagements:
Chairperson Jallow said since the conclusion of the country-wide public consultations in January of this year, the CRC had been busy in-house, collating and analysing results obtained from those public consultations; that in addition, the CRC had been reviewing written submissions received from individual Gambians and associations and other stakeholders, who had taken the laudable initiative of making proposals to the CRC on issues they considered pertinent in reviewing and drafting the new Constitution for the Gambia.
He said the CRC publicly recognizes their efforts and interest in being part of the process of Constitutional development in the Gambia; that in due course, they expect to publish the names of all those who have contributed to this endeavour.
On Household Survey:
Chairperson Jallow said in collaboration with International IDEA, the CRC has developed a specific household survey tool, aimed to solicit views of Gambians on key Constitutional Laws and other issues; that with studio assistance and guidance of their team of statisticians, researchers, regional coordinators and other support staff, including private enumerators who were contacted, the CRC undertook surveys within and outside communities that were targeted for internal public consultations.