By Nelson Manneh
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), continues to meet Gambian citizens to listen to them and receive their contributions on the proposed new Constitution.
In Marakisa village in the Kombo Central District of the West Coast Region on Saturday 5th January 2019, Alhasan Colley contributed that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for Gambians to have the right to acquire dual citizenship, without revoking their nationality, and that other nationalities in the country, should also be treated the same. “The Constitution should be flexible to both Gambians and non-Gambians. It should not be in favor of Gambians only, but towards other nationalities as well,” he said.
On the death penalty, Lamin Sambou said the Gambia is a Secular Republic, and that the death penalty is part of Sharia Law; that therefore, such a Law should not be practiced in the Gambia; that despite being a Muslim majority country, the Gambia is still a Secular Republic.
Daniel Mendy in his contribution, said everybody has the right to a nationality; that everybody born in the Gambia should be regarded as a citizen of the Gambia. “If you deny such people (people born in the Gambia) from having this document, where will they belong to? They only know this country. Where do we expect them to go?” he questioned the Commissioners. He added that the environment should be protected especially the natural forest cover and other agricultural lands.
In a similar development, Alieu Jarju of Busura village also told Commissioners of the CRC, that the 1997 Constitution is well designed and should not be changed. Jarju said it is a Constitution that is good for the country and does not require any changes but amendment of certain provisions. “When it comes to citizenship, what is in the 1997 Constitution is good and needs just some small adjustments,” he said; that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for prisoners not to vote because they have violated the Law; that allowing them to vote means they would be encouraged to continue to commit crimes.
“If the prisoners are allowed to vote, then they should be given the same right to contest because the Law says every citizen who is above eighteen years should vote and be voted for in elections,” he said.
Dimingo Mendy, also of Busura Village, said National Assembly elections should be conducted first, before Presidential elections; that this will favor all political parties to win seats in the Assembly and the ruling party will not be able to win the majority of seats.
CRC Commissioner Justice Cherno Jallow, the Chairperson of the Commission for his part, engaged the people of Busura on what is captured in the current Constitution and what the people think should be amended, and what needs to be added in the new Constitution.
Justice Jallow explained what is captured in the 1997 Constitution concerning citizenship and questioned the people on whether this particular provision on citizenship is adequate or otherwise, or should be left as it is? ‘‘Any person married to a citizen of the Gambia for a period of not less than seven years can apply for citizenship. Is that enough or not?” he questioned them.
Responding to Commissioner Jallow, Alagie Malick Camara said the seven and fifteen years of both marriage to a citizen and naturalization, is too much and should be reduced. “Some women suffer a lot when it comes to this issue of citizenship especially when they are pregnant and admitted to hospital,” he said.
Further contributions were made by the people on the appointment of Alkalos, Chiefs, Governors, the IEC Chairperson and Auditor General etc.