The National Assembly of The Gambia takes forward new draft Standing Orders

Published 12 February 2019

In May 2018, in response to a request from Madam Speaker of the National Assembly, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK) and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy jointly undertook an evaluation of the administration and procedures of the National Assembly of The Gambia.
The evaluation concluded there was an opportunity for a review of the current Standing Orders because they did not fit the requirements of the National Assembly in light of the new political set up. The need to review and replace the Standing Orders as a matter of urgency was repeatedly stressed by clerks and Members of the National Assembly during the evaluation process.
As a result, it was agreed that alongside a team of dedicated National Assembly staff, CPA UK would organise for two clerks from the Northern Ireland National Assembly to work with their Gambian counterparts from 13 August to 7 September 2018. This working group produced new draft Standing Orders which were later presented to the Standing Orders Select Committee for approval.
On 6 February 2019, the Gambian National Assembly concluded a two-day consultation workshop on the draft Standing Orders to discuss the revisions. All National Assembly Members and clerks, including Hon. Speaker Mariam Jack-Denton, participated in the consultation process, which provided an opportunity to raise concerns about the draft Standing Orders, evaluate their compatibility with the practice of the National Assembly and assess their consistency with the constitution.
The draft Standing Orders were discussed section by section in both a plenary and group discussion format. While the plenary format allowed National Assembly Members to raise individual concerns around specific amendments, the group discussion format addressed different sections of the text. During these discussions, National Assembly Members were briefed on the changes, new elements and background of each section of the new draft Standing Orders. Following this, National Assembly Members unanimously commended the Standing Orders Select Committee for its work and generally agreed on the draft.
The Standing Orders Working Group will now prepare a report compiling the feedback from the consultation. National Assembly Members will be further given an opportunity to make individual submissions to the Working Group and the Working Group will hold a separate consultation with the government and the Permanent Secretary.
CPA UK offers its very best wishes to The Gambia as it takes these draft Standing Orders forward to be tabled in the National Assembly in March 2019 for further debate and eventual adoption.
For more information about The Gambia, please visit https://www.uk-cpa.org/where-we-work/africa/the-gambia or email Yash Chandra, Africa Regional Manager, at chandray@parliament.uk. 
Madam Speaker of the National Assembly of The Gambia

Madam Speaker of the National Assembly of The Gambia