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As CRC Leaves for Europe and USA, Chairman Jallow Says the Process is Worth its Cost

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) this week leaves for Europe and the U.S. for external consultations with Diaspora Gambians. The project will take the commissioners and other staff to London, Paris, Berlin, Washington, D.C. and New York, among other major cities.

Ahead of the trips, critics have raised concern over the high cost of the process. Some have taken to the social media to question whether the CRC must send delegations to various European and U.S cities to gauge the opinions of Diaspora Gambians. Some suggested the CRC could have conducted virtual/online consultations to cut the cost.

In May, the CRC announced it has spent D13 million on consultations within the country, raising eyebrows and criticisms from some quarters.

But in an interview with The Chronicle, the CRC Chairman Cherno Sulayman Jallow admitted the ongoing constitutional review process is expensive, but argued that any constitutional review process properly conducted will be expensive. “We should not underplay the importance of consulting with Gambians.”

Jallow said the Gambian Diaspora does not only constitute an importance constituency in the country, but also adds a lot of value to the development of The Gambia. “They deserve as much cost to enable them to participate in this process as Gambians within The Gambia also deserve similar arrangements,” he said.

“It cost us to consult internally, and it will cost us, and it’s costing us to consult externally. But should we minimize or should we relegate the importance, the value of getting interface of direct consultation with Gambians on account of financial cost?”

According to Jallow, it is a legal and moral issue that the commissioners have debated. He said at the end of the day the commission decided that it was guided by the CRC Act which empowers the CRC to consult with the Gambia Diaspora, though it doesn’t specify how it consults with them.

The CRC Chairman cited Mauritania where he said over 400 Gambians showed up when the commission held a consultation there. He questioned whether the same number of people would show up if the consultation was conducted online.

participants at a CRC external consultation

“We’ve had a lot of interaction in Dakar and in Jeddah. A lot of people came out and they engaged us. If you were to do that online, not everybody is online savvy.”

“The fact of the matter is we’re not going externally to engage with non-Gambians. These are our brothers and sisters. They’re Gambians. They’re interested in their country. They want to see their country develop. They want the same things we in The Gambia want for our country. So why shouldn’t we consult them?”

Jallow could not tell how much money is being spent on the consultations but promised transparency, saying that the figures would be out at the end of the external consultations.

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