West African leaders urge Jammeh to respect election result 

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December 14, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi

President Ernest Bai Koroma was among a high- powered ECOWAS delegation to The Gambia in order to negotiate with outgoing President Yahyah Jammeh to see reason and step aside and allow a peaceful democratic transition in The Gambia.

President Jammeh had conceded defeat in the December 1st elections and congratulated President-elect Adama Barrow. He however had a dramatic change of mind few days ago and declared the elections a nullity, stating that the process was flawed.

A statement from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stated that President of the Republic of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of States (ECOWAS), Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, headed the delegation of the sub-regional body to The Gambia.

Presidential Spokesperson Abdulai Bayraytay told Concord Times that President Koroma and his colleagues would exploit the possibility of negotiating with the Gambian leader for an amicable solution to the standoff.

“I don’t want to predict anything but we are closely working with AU, ECOWAS and other sub-regional organisations on this matter. The president is expected today and we will make public the outcome of their engagement,” he said.

On Sunday, President Sirleaf issued a special statement on the current political situation in The Gambia, urging President Jammeh to respect the election results, which she said reflect the freely expressed will of the Gambian people.

Meanwhile, The Gambia Bar Association, in a press statement, rejected the subsequent by President Jammeh that he intends to file an election petition against the results published by the Independent Electoral Commission.

“The Gambia Bar Association condemns in the strongest possible terms the announcement by President Yahya Jammeh made on Friday the 9th December, 2016 wherein he declared the 1st December 2016 elections null and void. The said statement of the outgoing President contravenes the provisions of Section 49 of the 1997 Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia and, in our considered opinion, is an abrogation of the Constitution and an attempt to subvert the legitimate decision of the people of The Gambia. Furthermore, this action is tantamount to treason under the provisions of Section 6 (1) of the Constitution,’’ the statement said, adding that they were concerned that since May 2015 there had not been a constituted Supreme Court session due to the absence of a panel  despite several reminders issued to the Chief Justice by members of the Bar.

“In the circumstance, it would be against the principles of natural justice for the outgoing President to appoint Supreme Court Judges to hear a Petition filed by him or on his behalf. That would be tantamount to one being a judge in his own case considering that the outgoing President has already pre-empted the outcome of Court process by declaring the election result as a nullity.”

The association added that in the present circumstances, any Supreme Court empanelled by the outgoing President Jammeh for the purposes of hearing his election petition would be fundamentally tainted.

Also, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 644th meeting held on 12 December 2016, adopted a communique in which they strongly rejected any attempt to circumvent or reverse the outcome of the presidential election held in The Gambia on 1 December 2016, which according to them, was a clear expression of the popular will and choice of the Gambian people.

“In this respect, Council calls upon the outgoing President, Yahya Jammeh to keep to the letter and spirit of his speech delivered on 2 December 2016, in which he welcomed the maturity of democracy in The Gambia and congratulated the President-Elect, Adama Barrow. Calls upon the Government of The Gambia and all other concerned Gambian stakeholders to work together to facilitate a peaceful and orderly transfer of power to the new President of The Gambia, as decided by the people of the country.

The Council further urged that all stakeholders, including defense and security forces, to exercise utmost restraint and refrain from any statement or action that may further complicate the rapid and peaceful transfer of power, in compliance with relevant provisions of the Gambian Constitution and relevant AU instruments.