Gambia: Jammeh calls on ECOWAS chair to mediate crisis

 16 Jan 2017 - 12:39

Gambia: Jammeh calls on ECOWAS chair to mediate crisis
Photo: AA.

AA

BANJUL, Gambia: Gambia’s outgoing President Yahya Jammeh requested the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to facilitate transportation of judges to the small nation to sit over his election petition, local media reported on Sunday.

Jammeh was declared loser in the country’s Dec. 1 polls but rejected the results a week later claiming the electoral process was tainted with “unacceptable irregularities”.

In a telephone conversation with ECOWAS head Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, he called on the regional body to mediate the ongoing dispute through judicial process. 

“I want to request your assistance as the chairperson of the ECOWAS authority of heads of states to help us resolve this impasse peacefully through the courts… for ECOWAS to facilitate the release of the judges so that they can come and help us resolve this constitutionally,” Jammeh said in a telephone conversation with Sirleaf which was played on the state TV Sunday night.

On Saturday, the regional leaders renewed their commitment to uphold the poll results by all means necessary after a meeting in Mali. 

But Jammeh claimed the “only peaceful resolution of this impasse is through the courts”.

The outgoing president has filed an election petition at the country's Supreme Court seeking to annul the results but the hearing could not be made because of the absence of judges who were supposed to come from Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

It was confirmed last week that judges won’t come until May or November.

Meanwhile, the defeated leader filed an injunction at the same court seeking to stop president-elect Adama Barrow’s inauguration until the court hears his petition.

“An application has also been filed at the Supreme Court of the Gambia for an injunction to restrain Adama Barrow from being sworn in as well as restrain the Chief Justice and any other party from swearing in Adama Barrow into office until this application is decided...,” Jammeh told Sirleaf.

The ruling on the injunction is likely on Jan. 16 but the Gambia Bar Association has already warned that any attempt to stop the inauguration of the president elect will be “tantamount to treason” under the Gambian law.

“Until such time that the Supreme Court has made a decision on this, the status quo cannot change…”

Jammeh said the day when the president elect Adama Barrow is constitutionally mandated to assume office, “is not cast in stone”, suggesting his inauguration can wait until his case is heard.

He argued that all the parties “should await the outcome of the Supreme Court which is the only legal entity” that can solve the impasse.

Sirleaf was part of the failed ECOWAS mediation team led by Nigeria’s President Muhammed Buhari with the help of ex Ghanaian president John Dramani Mahama who have travelled to Banjul on two occasions to convince Jammeh to step down with no success.

During the conversation Sirleaf suggested Jammeh to send his request to the regional mediators so that they could discuss the issue.

According to the Gambian constitution, Jammeh currently has only three days to secure a court ruling if the court or the National Assembly don’t extend his term as president.

African Union Peace and Security Council stated on Friday that it would cease to recognize Jammeh as president after Jan. 19.

The Gambia government harshly criticized the move in a press statement labeling it with annoying and aggravating the political situation in the country.