Monday, December 12, 2016

The Gambia is not Zimbabwe: No power sharing here

Jammeh in Sultan outfit 
The last thing that The Gambia needs is a power sharing arrangement that has failed in Zimbabwe. H.E. Adama Barrow, the President-elect of the Republic of The Gambia won the December 1st presidential elections fair and square and which were internationally proclaimed to be free, fair and credible.

Not only that, but Yaya Jammeh conceded defeat before national and international television audiences by calling the president-elect and committing to, and abiding by the will of the people.  He proceeded in the same phone conversation to assure the President-elect of a smooth transfer of power.

President-elect Barrow will be heading a coalition government of seven opposition parties which, by definition, is a power-sharing arrangement and thus no room for someone like Yaya Jammeh, a proven usurper of power.  

The Gambian people have spoken, voices that were heard loud and clear by Jammeh when he boasted about the "rig-prove system of voting" that his government has embraced and the results of which he assured Gambians he will abide by.

To renege on his word with a view to reversing the verdict of the Gambian voters is not only irresponsible but an act of adventurism that must not be entertained neither by the Coalition nor by the august delegation comprising of four regional Heads of State of Liberia as Chairperson of ECOWAS, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea.  To entertain any proposal that will keep Yaya Jammeh in any capacity in the new political dispensation, including a power sharing arrangement, is to create a dangerous precedence in a continent plagued by dictators like Yaya Jammeh.

The Gambia Bar Association (GBA) has finally stepped into the political arena to lend its voice to what is fast becoming a constitutional coup d'etat that has been in the making for a number of years.  Jammeh anticipated such a scenario when he amended the laws that realigned the electoral calendar by decoupling the presidential from the national assembly elections, creating a 4-month window which he will exploit in the event he miraculously lose his bid for re-election.

The claim by the ruling APRC party to file a complaint with the Supreme Court against the published results by the IEC has been rejected by the GBA and for good reason.  The Supreme Court has not sat since May 2015, the GBA pointed out, for lack of a panel of judges.  The two Gambian judges were fired by Jammeh for reasons known only to him, leaving a lone Nigerian Chief Justice.

To reconstitute a fully complimented Supreme Court would require Jammeh to appoint 4 judges to the Court with less than 60 days left in his term as president.  To impanel judges now for the purposes of considering his party's election petition would not only "be against the principle of natural justice" but would be "fundamentally tainted".  The legal profession has spoken and the voices of its members must be part of the equation.

We have been calling for Jammeh to step down at the end of his current term and not to put up his candidacy for a 5th term as president.  He has occupied the position for 22 years - a position he seized unconstitutionally in 1994  Here he is again, two decades later, trying to unconstitutionally retain power that he lost in a free, fair and credible elections, the results of which have been certified by the Independent Electoral Commission and universally acclaimed.  Jammeh must step down and he must do so now.