The omission of the word ‘secular’ in the draft constitution sparked heated debate at the Constitution Review Commission’s (CRC) public consultation in Banjul on Saturday.

Several Gambians have already taken to social media, since the publication of the draft constitution weeks ago, to express their concerns about the CRC’s decision to omit the word ‘secular’ from the draft constitution. 

At the Banjul public consultation, some of the participants expressed their dissatisfaction and claimed that the omission could be detrimental to people from minority religious background. They said the Gambia should remain a secular state.

One of the participants Moses Sonko, a political activist, urged the commissioners of the CRC to include the word ‘secular’ “in order to avoid future misunderstanding”.

He cited section 1 subsection 4 that mandates the Constitutional Review Commission to ensure that the Gambia continues to exist as a secular state.

The Commission’s vice chairman Awa Sise Sabally said the concerns raised at the consultation will be noted. She however clarified that no faith would be discriminated against and that the draft constitution is inclusive of every faith and none.

“Some of us are from families that have both Christian and Muslim members. So we will make sure that all faiths are catered for and no one will jeopardise with what you Gambians want to be included in the new constitution.

“In the draft constitution it is indicated that the Gambia is a multi-party state which cannot be changed even by members of the National Assembly.”

Earlier the chairman of the Commission Justice Sulayman Jallow said the new constitution caters for all Gambians regardless of their affiliations.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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