Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has returned from his third visit to Banjul after rewarding consultations that brought the country’s political parties and stakeholders to agree on some contentious areas that initially threatened the effort to give The Gambia a new constitution.
A draft new constitution prepared by the Constitution Review Commission and presented to the Parliament was thrown out last year by the lawmakers over the failure of party leaders to reach a consensus on some of the controversial issues. The proposed Constitution Promulgation Bill, 2020 was meant to replace the 1997 constitution which most Gambians consider defective, especially since the exit of former President Alhaji Yaya Jammeh.
However, due to the mediation effort of the former President, the draft constitution might soon find its way back to the Parliament to be reconsidered, following interparty agreement on all but one of the controversial clauses in the draft constitution.
The only outstanding issue which is about to be resolved before reintroducing the draft constitution to the National Assembly is a clause on retroactivity where a consensus is currently being worked out.
So far, 16 political parties have already backed the push for the retroactive clause to be expunged with only the United Democratic Party (UDP) led by former vice present Ousainou Darboe insisting that the draft must go to a referendum unaltered.
However, pressure is being mounted on him from other key stakeholders to shift ground in order to ensure that the new constitution, which is said to enjoy the support of majority of Gambians, is re-presented for approval by the Parliament.
Dr. Jonathan’s visit to Banjul early this week was his third since December last year as he continues to mediate in the country’s constitution review process, with technical assistance provided by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
In furtherance of the mediation, the former President orchestrated the visit to Abuja of political party leaders from 16 Gambian political parties last February to continue talks in a different environment.
The UDP leader is being persuaded to reconsider his hardline posture, adopt a conciliatory stance in line with the position of other party leaders who want the contentious retroactive clause expunged, in the best interest of the country.