The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (TANGO) in partnership with Transitional Justice groups on Saturday held a national stakeholder conference to discuss the way forward in the quest for The Gambia to have a new constitution.The conference was held at Sir Dawda Kairaba International Conference Center.
The national discussion brought together Civil Society Organisations and all relevant stakeholders from all the regions to discuss the way forward for a new supreme law of the land.
Speaking during the event, the chairman of Tango, John Charles Njie, reminded the gathering of the powers they possess as a people, citing the collective efforts Gambians took to oust former President Yahya Jammeh.
Having rejected the Constitution of The Gambia Promulgation Bill 2020 by the National Assembly, disappointed Njie said the country is at a cross road, highlighting numerous issues including Covid-19, high crime rate, alleged corruption in public offices, poverty, high unemployment rate among the youth and rising political tension among other things.
In the midst of all these problems, Njie said it is time for Gambians to have a dialogue as one people.
"Maybe it is time to talk to each other. Stop pointing fingers. With mutual respect and understanding, we can achieve much more."
Having agreed on most of the contested issues in the Draft Constitution by the political parties, discussion on the deadlock hindering the desire to have a new constitution is necessary.
On that backdrop, Mr. Njie said TANGO and the Transitional Justice groups "deemed it prudent and apt to organise this stakeholders conference in next steps for a new constitution in a bid to have a national discussion and possibly a consensus for the advancement of our Draft Constitution to the next stage.”
While many may be wondering the need for such a discussion after the rejection of the said bill, Njie said the CSOs haven't given up on the draft.
"As Civil Society, we believe we can still raise awareness at national level on existing legal and other organisational aspects to get the revised constitution adopted.
"To keep the discussion alive on consensus, be it among political party leaders during the Good luck Jonathan dialogue and possibly to establish a national coalition for the promotion of a new constitution.
"If we as a people defeated tyranny, we the people can resolve to have a new constitution.
"I am confident that we have what it takes to dialogue and agree on a path forth."
Njie called for a renewed hope, patriotism and zeal for a new and better Gambia, adding that the challenges could be overcome if the people get united.
CSOs led by TANGO have been very instrumental in the efforts for The Gambia to have a new constitution, Njie and his colleagues believe the new constitution is the way forward as it contains the wishes and aspirations of Gambian people.
Less has been said on the legalities to reviving the draft constitution, but there are so many Gambians who yearn for the rejected Draft Bill to proceed the referendum stage to be given the opportunity to have a say on the matter.