Adama Barrow, incoming president of The Gambia, has debunked the outgoing president’s rejection of the Independent Electoral Commission-declared election result, saying he has no constitutional authority to do so.
On Friday evening, outgoing president Yahya Jammeh appeared on the state broadcaster, GRTS, to fault the process, fairness and result of the 1st December 2016 presidential election which he initially described as “most transparent and rig-proof”.
After ruling for 22 years, Jammeh suddenly lost the election to Barrow who leads a coalition of seven opposition parties.
Jammeh rejected the result and called for fresh election to be presided over by God-fearing electoral commission. His ruling APRC party said it would file a petition at the Supreme Court to legally challenge the result.
The third contesting party in the election, Gambia Democratic Congress, said it accepted the result as the will of Gambians.
“The outgoing president has no constitutional authority to reject the result of election and order for fresh election to be held,” incoming president Barrow said on Saturday while addressing journalists at his private residence in Yarambamba Estate.
He spoke to journalists shortly after an emergency meeting with the coalition members where they discussed the way forward as regard the pronouncement by the outgoing president.
Incoming president Barrow said the IEC is the only competent authority to announce the results of election and declare a winner.
“I urged him [Jammeh] to change his current position and accept the verdict of the people in good faith for the sake of The Gambia, our homeland whose people deserved peace and freedom and prosperity.”
Jammeh has up to 17 January 2017 to continue serving as the outgoing president of The Gambia.
Barrow further stated that he has openned a channel of communication to try to convince Jammeh to facilitate a smooth transfer of executive powers “in the supreme interest of this country”.
“I told in him our telephone conversation that we were all born in 1965; we are children of the independence. It will be an honour to have transfer of executive powers for the first time in history done by two citizens who were born in the year The Gambia became independent,” he said.
He also called on President Jammeh and Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, president of the first republic, to join him at his inauguration in January to “commemorate the birth of the third republic”.
“Let him [Jammeh] know that leaders come and go; sooner or later, I must also go. This is a fact that all of us must accept at all times act in the supreme interest of The Gambia,” he said.
The incoming president has also called on all Gambians to go about their normal businesses peacefully without any fear.
“I am advising the supporters of the coalition to celebrate the victory with discipline and maturity and prepare themselves for the inauguration in January after the end of the term of the outgoing president.”
Meanwhile, Halifa Sallah, spokesperson of the coalition, said people should know that “there is no political crisis.”
“We are facing a transition. When we reach the stage where he [Barrow] is to assume office, any resistance would constitute a crisis and we will know how to deal with that,” Mr Sallah said in a side interview with journalists.
He however said “it is not important at the moment” to say what would be taken in the event of the crisis for that could lead to speculation and misinformation.
Mr Sallah said as far the coalition is concerned; they are not concerned about outgoing president Jammeh’s declaration.
“We sympathise with his declaration because it is from the defensive,” he said. “Somebody who has acknowledged [the result] until everybody praise you is now reneging. I think he deserves sympathy and counseling.”
“I would advise the APRC councilors of elders to start going to him; he needs advice from his own constituency and I am sure advice will be coming from all constituencies that are concerned with the peace, stability and prosperity of this country.”