Gambian President-elect never threatened to prosecute Jammeh, other officials – Party leader

Photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (GAMBIA)
Photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (GAMBIA)

The President-elect of The Gambia never threatened to investigate or prosecute the outgoing leader, Yahya Jammeh, a party leader has said.

The chieftain of The Gambia’s coalition political party which defeated Mr. Jammeh also said the country has no fully constituted Supreme Court to hear the incumbent’s petition against the results of the election won by the opposition candidate.

Mr. Jammeh, who has led Gambia for 22 years, was defeated at the November 21 poll by Adama Barrow, the candidate of the opposition coalition.

Seven political parties came together and adopted Mr. Barrow who did not belong to any of the parties as their candidate.

Mr. Jammeh at first accepted defeat and even called Mr. Barrow to congratulate him. He however, changed his mind and said he would challenge the outcome of the poll and insisted that fresh election must hold.

He has also vowed not to hand over power in January when his term expires.

Mai Fatty denied reports that Mr. Barrow caused Mr. Jammeh’s change of heart through his statements to the effect that the Gambia would return to the International Criminal Court.

Such statements were reportedly interpreted by the outgoing president that his successor plans to call for his prosecution at the ICC.

“I employ you media personalities to go and make the widest investigation anywhere and you will not find a single statement attributable to His Excellency, President-elect Barrow, making any threat on this outgoing president or any member of his government or his family,” he said.

He however, added that “a person who is neutral, not a politician, who is not a member of any political party and who was brought in to co-chair, made certain statements that are going round the internet

“But these statement were exclusively the opinion of this person, it was made without the knowledge of the coalition or the President-elect; it was unauthorised and did not represent the position of either the coalition or the President-elect.

“So the house should be categorically clear that the coalition and the President-elect Barrow did not take any affirmative decision on the issue of prosecution or threat against the outgoing president,” he said.

Mr. Fatty said what the coalition wants is a peaceful, stable and seamless transition.

He said they were not focussed on the wrongs of the incumbent President.

Gambia President-elect, Adama Barrow
Gambia President-elect, Adama Barrow

“Our focus is moving The Gambia forward. Take over power, as granted by the voters of The Gambia and do the business of The Gambians, that is our focus. Whatever the alleged crimes or the alleged blessings of the Ex-president is a matter that is not of prime importance at this stage,” he said.

No SUPREME COURT

The leader of the Gambian Moral Congress, GMC, said although it was proper for Mr. Jammeh to submit a petition challenging his defeat at the November 21 election, “unfortunately the Supreme Court is not properly constituted in The Gambia at the moment”.

He said the country’s apex court presently has only the Chief Judge in office when it is supposed to have seven Justices, with at least five of them sitting to determine the election petition.

Mr. Fatty who spoke at a media briefing in Abuja alongside another coalition figure, Haman Baah, said “for over one year and a half, it was the constitutional prerogative of His Excellency, President Yahya Jammeh, to appoint judges in the Supreme Court. He has not done so, and we are now faced with a constitutional crisis.

“How can you determine an election petition when there is no supreme court to preside on the matter?”

Regional bloc, ECOWAS had on Saturday asked Mr. Jammeh to prepare to hand over to Mr. Barrow. It also appointed Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and his Ghanaian counterpart, John Mahama, to mediate for a peaceful transition.

Mr. Fatty on Tuesday said another problem was the apparent moral dilemma that Mr. Jammeh faces.

He said the president’s reluctance to constitute the full panel of the Supreme Court has come to haunt him now because he is the only one at present with the power to appoint the six remaining Justices.

“Although the president is using his constitutional rights to do that (appoint justices), he did not exercise this power for over a year and half, therefore, if he now appoints Supreme Court judges, it will be exclusively for the purpose of receiving his election petition and make a determination on it.

“Nobody questions his constitutional right to do that but we are saying, he will be a judge in his own case and it it is against the principles of natural justice,” he said.

Reacting to reports that Mr. Jammeh insists he would not hand over power, Mr. Fatty said as far as Gambian people were concerned, Mr. Jammeh remains president till January 19.

He also said Mr. Jammeh lacks the power to annul the result of the election, saying only the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, can do that.

“The president also annulled the result of the election but that jurisdiction is designed exclusively for the IEC. Unfortunately, this decision cannot also stand. I can go into the legalities but this is not the time for that, we have gone beyond that

“What is at stake is that we have an incoming government that won an election which is very clear, the outgoing president had conceded, there are no legal mechanism in the country today to contest the presidential election through the medium of the courts, it does not exist in our country today”, he said.


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