Tabling of the eagerly-awaited Constitutional Bill 2020 has on Monday passed the first reading step of its adoption process in the National Assembly. Yet, decision to agree on the day for the second reading appeared to be an apple of discord for parliamentarians.
The Bill with the title ‘Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 2020 promulgation bill 2020’ was handed over to the Clerk of the assembly by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow. Upon introduction by the Clerk, the Speaker of the House Mariam Jack Denton confirmed the passage of the first stage.
“The bill has been read for the first time. The next stage of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 2020, promulgation bill 2020 is appointed for Tuesday the 15th of September 2020 for the person in charge of the Bill to move a motion for the second reading in accordance with Standing Orders (clause) 66 sub-clause 2, which reads and I quote, ‘at the conclusion of the proceedings on the first reading or any subsequent stage of a Bill. The next stage may be taken either forthwith or upon a day to be named, provided that the second reading shall be taken no sooner than one working day after the first reading,” she said as she attempted to adjourned the thematic session to the next day.
However, Alagie Jawara, a National Assembly member of Lower Baddibu, disputed the process, saying he is not comfortable based on standing orders 66(2). According to his submission, Tuesday should be skipped and the day after adopted for the second reading.
The Chairperson of the National Assembly’s Standing Orders Committee, Sidia Jatta expressed his agreement with the law-maker, indicating that Tuesday cannot be perfect. “He’s perfectly right”, Sidia Jatta approved of his Baddibu colleague.
Halifa Sallah, member of Serrekunda cited an authority, affirming the exclusion of a day between the first and second reading.
“We have to leave one day and come to Wednesday, the whole of Tuesday and come to Wednesday.”
But Speaker Denton was not fully convinced of the specifics about the date for the second reading and sought to dwell on expert opinion to make a decision.
“Now, let us take our time and look at it, we have now against the end of the day. We will look at it and we will come to a decision so that at the end of the day, we would’ve followed the due process and proper procedure. My concern is for proper procedure to be followed especially with this Bill.”
The parliament continues discussions on other matters on the agenda of deputies.