SEREKUNDA, GAMBIA - JANUARY 13: Leader of the United Democratic Party Ousainou Darboe speaks to media as he arrives to attend a meeting to find a solution to political crisis after Gambian Presidential Elections at Coco Ocean Hotel in Serekunda, Gambia on January 13, 2017. (Photo by Yusupha Sama/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

There should be a total review not a piece by piece changes

Gambians have got some good news: Jammeh’s toilet paper constitution will be drained into the sewer and there will be a new constitution, which is expected to be progressive and glorious of Gambia’s new found democracy.

Gambians today are like Americans, they cannot agree on anything with how government works. The government has to respect the rule of law and this means, following the rules set in Yahya Jammeh’s customized supreme law.

President Adama Barrow can use some executive power here to do a great deal of good but our new Commander-in-Chief does not want to be a Yahya Jammeh or an Idi Amin.

Barrow wants to build strong institutions and wants to leave a legacy. He pledges to usher a new dawn of democratic rule, freedom, and liberty. But just 10 months into his rule, there is an argument about regime change and system change.

Barrow cannot make swift changes to Jammeh’s rules, Jammeh’s trusted workers, and Jammeh’s institutions in place. Change in government, especially of entrenched attitudes and culture may take three years.

“There should be a total review, not a piece by piece to avoid conflict,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ousainou Darboe.

Barrow addressed pro-democracy and human rights activists in Banjul this week where he said one of the key reforms of his administration is the adoption of a new Republican Constitution within the shortest time possible.

What will the new Constitution ensure? One thing is certain: existing constitutional provisions on the protection of human rights shall be strengthened in the new constitutional order.

But Barrow said it is important to note that human rights protection must not only be about enacting laws on paper. Concrete steps, he said, must be taken through the creation of institutions, policies, and programs for the full realization and enjoyment of these rights.

Barrow’s critics say he has failed to ensure institutional changes. Confidence in the judiciary is restored to an extent but existing laws continue to restrict freedoms and liberties.

Opposition politicians and activists perceived as opponents of the government have been denied permits by the police. This public order act is being challenged in the Supreme Court even by Mr. Darboe, who was jailed for protesting against Jammeh’s regime last year.

Amnesty International urged the new Gambian government to guarantee freedom of expression and assembly; end arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture, and strengthen the justice system.

The Barrow government has promised to protect and promote the rights of women and girls; ensure non-discrimination; promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights; fully comply with international and regional human rights obligations and impunity for human rights violations.

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