By Lamin Jammeh
The Gambia Bar Association (GBA) on Monday said it “condemns the in the strongest possible terms” outgoing President Yahya Jammeh’s attempt to nullify the December 1 election results.
Mr. Jammeh announced on Friday, 9th December that he rejects the results that saw him concede defeat to president-elect Adama Barrow – declaring it “null and void”.
On Dec. 12, the GBA said his statement 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.”
“Further, this action is tantamount to treason under the provisions of Section 6 (1) of the Constitution,” its President Sheriff Tambedou said in a statement.
File petition in court
Mr. Jammeh also expressed an intention to chellenge the results in court, a day after he rejected them. However, the Bar said it also rejects this proposal.
“We reject the subsequent statement by the APRC that it intends to file an election petition against the results published by the Independent Electoral Commission,” Tambedou said. “The rhetoric of the APRC further compounds the illegitimate and destabilizing actions of the outgoing President.”
While Jammeh’s party has the right to petition against election results, the situation in The Gambia now, is [that there is] no constituted panel of the Supreme Court.
The GBA notes with concern that since May 2015, there has not been a sitting Supreme Court session due to the absence of a panel. “This is despite several reminders issued to the Chief Justice by members of the Bar.”
Tambedou said under 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.
The GBA said 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.
It added: “It is the position of the GBA that an outgoing President must not be appointing judges who should have been appointed since 2015.
“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.
“The Gambia Bar Association therefore states that there is no legitimate legal mechanism available in The Gambia to hear and determine the election petition filed by the outgoing President Jammeh or on his behalf.
“Under the circumstances we call on outgoing President Jammeh to respect the outcome of the December 2016 elections and immediately hand over power peacefully to President-elect. Adama Barrow in line with the sovereign will of the people of The Gambia.
“Any other course of action will jeopardize the peace and stability of our country.”
Boycott the courts
The GBA has called on other professional bodies, unions, civil society organizations, the civil and public service and the security forces to respect the will of the people and pledge their allegiance to the President-elect.
They called on the African Commission on Human and People Rights to strongly urge Mr. Jammeh to respect the outcome of the just concluded Presidential elections and to further respect the relevant regional and international human instruments binding on The Gambia.
“We ask all members of the Bar Association and the staff of the judiciary in particular to ‘boycott the courts’ in solidarity with the people until such time as the Government of Yahya Jammeh accept the result of the elections and hand over power to the president-elect.