Alagi Yorro Jallow

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) of the then ruling Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (A FPRC) was established in March 1995 under Decree No.33 of 1995.Its remit was to review the suspended; (abolished) 1970 constitution and recommend what changes should be made to into the new constitution (1997 Second republican constitution) to come into force after the return to civilian rule.

However, CRC had a much smaller membership Chaired by a Ghanaian High Court judge, Justice George Mensah Quaye, who had been seconded to the Gambia. Justice Quaye was assisted by, a British, American and Malawian lawyer, prepared a draft new constitution in 1995. Other members of CRC, included two Gambian female lawyers namely; Ms. Amina Coker; State Counsel Ms.H.C Roche(later) Hon. Justice Roche, as secretary; a Christian Cleric, Bishop Tilewa Johnson, of the Anglican Diocese, a Muslim Cleric from Banjul Independence Mosque Road Imam Makumba Jaye, a traditional Chief, Seyfo Dembo Santang Bojang of Brikama, Kombo Central and one representatives of civil society, educationist, Mr. Gabriel Roberts.

Since political activity was banned under Decree No.4, individuals, few members, including politicians, former diplomats, individual members of the of the Bar (individual lawyers) and supporters of the junta submitted proposals, Memoranda, and oral contribution. The CRC conducted open public hearings in Banjul.

CRC submitted its report to the AFPRC government in November 1995 (it had originally been requested to do so by July). However, its report was not published until March 1996, and some of its key recommendations were then rejected by the AFPRC government. The most significant of these was that the president be at least 40 years of age (this would have ruled out Yahya Jammeh) and that a president could only serve for a maximum of two terms.

A national referendum on the draft constitution was held in August 1996, and there were no representatives by members of the former Parliament, the Gambia Press Union, Medical & Dental Council, Gambia Teachers Union, Gambia Workers Union, National Women’s Council or Youth Organization appointed to the Constitutional Review Commission.