Halifa Sallah

The National Assembly member for Serrekunda has reignited the secularism debate during parliamentary proceedings on The Gambia’s Draft Constitution. 

Halifa Sallah on Wednesday called on the people opposed to the Draft Constitution because secularism was not “explicitly” stated “to rethink their stand”.

Mr Sallah said Section 88 of the Draft Constitution forbids the president from declaring The Gambia as a religious state.

He added that the National Assembly is also restricted under Section 153 of the Draft Constitution from passing any law that declare the country as a religious state.

“Now the contradictions in terms of object and reason Honourable Speaker … some are saying that ‘is not adequate, put secular there and don’t put Shariah there because that would show that you are aligning with a particular religion’. 

Mr Sallah said: “Let us look at these principles very clearly. What is best is to have put secular. But within the context of the Commission they say well, this is what we can put. That is the job we assigned them. That’s what they can do. That’s the context and the content. That’s what they can do.

“But to those who may say ‘I will vote against this constitution because secular is not there’ well they must rethink. Those who say ‘I will not vote because Sharia is there’ they must rethink; because the fundamental rights and freedoms give power not to be discriminated.“

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