Gambia: Why I should remain President – Jammeh

Photo credit: BBC.com

The Gambia’s outgoing leader, Yahya Jammeh, continued to insist on Monday he would not step aside for President-elect Adama Barrow to be sworn-in on January 19, brushing aside international calls and pressure from the regional bloc, ECOWAS.‎

Mr. Jammeh issued the latest threat to the country’s fist change of leadership in 22 years in a telephone call to the chairperson of ECOWAS and Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

During the conversation posted on Youtube, Mr. Jammeh told Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf, who is leading efforts to ensure respect for the outcome of last December’s election, that the “status quo” had to remain until his country’s Supreme Court decides on an application by his party.

The application wants the court “to restrain Adama Barrow from being sworn-in as well as restraining the Chief Justice or any other person from swearing him, Adama Barrow, into office.”

But the Chief Justice and at the moment sole judge of the court, Emmanuel Fagbenle, a Nigerian, on Monday said he could not entertain the application because it includes him as a defendant.

The Gambia went to the polls on December 1 to elect a new president. Mr. Jammeh running for a fifth term came up against two other candidates. The electoral body returned Mr. Barrow winner of the election, and within 24 hours made a phone call to concede defeat and congratulate the declared winner.

The gesture had earned Mr. Jammeh, who had seized power in a military putsch against the first president of the country, Dauda Jawara, in 1994, instant praises.

But a week later, Mr. Jammeh shocked the world when he rejected the results on national television citing irregularities and ordering a rerun of the polls.

Judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone traditionally preside at the Supreme Court of The Gambia in special sessions between May and November because the country does not have enough qualified judges to sit at the apex court.

Mr. Jammeh therefore appealed to Mrs. Johnson to help facilitate the availability of the judges, although the Nigerian and Sierra Leonean judiciary had already said they could not do so until May.

In his telephone conversation with Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf on Monday, Mr. Jammeh said: “With regards to our last meeting when you came here. I want to request your assistance as the chairperson of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State. I want to request you to help us resolve this matter through the court.

“I want you, I want ECOWAS to facilitate the release of the Judges so that they can come to help us resolve constitutionally through the constitution of the Gambia. As I said the only resolution of this impasse is through the court.

“Everything that will be done let it be based on the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia. An application has also been filed before the Supreme Court of The Gambia for injunction to restrain Adama Barrow from being sworn-in as well as restraining the Chief Justice or any other person from swearing him, Adama Barrow, into office.

“Until this application is decided either way, the status quo must remain, that is until the Supreme Court makes decision on this the status quo can’t change.”

Mr. Jammeh’s fifth term runs out on January 19.

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, first said: ‘you want to talk to again’ on answering the call, before Mr. Jammeh added, that “date is not cast in stone.”

He then persisted thus: “As we have matter in court and have issue with our election, all parties should await the judgement of the Supreme Court which will be the only legal entity to trash out this case once and for all.

“I want to assure you that whatever we are going to do will be based on the constitution of The Gambia. All as we discussed must pass through the constitution of The Gambia which is the supreme authority.

“So once again, I am requesting the ECOWAS to facilitate the coming of the judges so they can resolve this case as soon as possible. I count on you,’ said Mr. Jammeh, to the Liberian President whom he called “my sister”.

In her response, Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf assured him she would go “to work on this right away.”

She said she would consult with other authorities “to tell them what you said.”

She then asked Mr. Jameh to make a “short statement” of commitment that “there will be peace, there will be no violation of the constitution.”

“A short statement like that will make everybody comfortable and will encourage Nigerians and others to get the Judges to come,” said Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf.

“I assure you I am going to do it today, my sister. You have my words” was Mr. Jammeh’s response.

“Gambia needs peace, ECOWAS wants peace,” Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf then said.

“I guarantee you insha Allah,” Mr. Jammeh replied, and the conversation ended.

Earlier on Monday, the Chief Justice, Mr. Fagbenle, declined to grant Mr. Jammeh’s prayer on Monday on the ground that the application listed the Chief Judge, who is the only Supreme Court Judge at the moment, as a party in the application.

He said he could not rule against himself.


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  • umunnem

    Jammeh should go to ECOWAS Court…abi???

    • Julius

      He already knew what they will tell him so, he wont.

  • Jumpingbrook

    Waaaa, I am sure thia Jammeh has something, why would Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf go soft on him and agree to even talk to other ECOWAS members to allow Judges, waa ooooo

    • Ess Esquire

      @ammajane:disqus ,

      To my own mind the Chief Justice of The Gambia did not handle this situation well.
      He is the one who threw Gambia into a mess by not thinking things through – that,
      without judicial guidance, even in the absence of court forum, military force could
      be deployed to more devastating effect. The gap here is there is no equivalent
      law in Gambia that a holder of the post of president shall vacate office when his
      successor takes the oath of office, as specifically stated in Nigeria’s constitution.
      Without a clear law the Chief Justice should have issued a judicial order to say
      what should happen in two days’ time as an interim measure, to avoid a war,
      rather than say he was recusing himself from deciding anything insofar as he
      was cited in Jammeh’s application as one of those an injunction should issue.

      • Ohnigeria Godsavenigeria

        You must first consider the characteristics and the nature of the said judge before putting your expectations on him. A Judas Iscariot race can never be relied upon to save a situation like this in Gambia. The best that can come out of it is to betray Gambian people and turn around to blackmail them. The guy must have been hiding in Nigeria by now.

      • Jumpingbrook

        True talk, thanks

    • Julius

      Its called diplomacy sir. She will not talk tough when she knew its probably being taped . Jammeh has nothing other than being delusional.

      • Jumpingbrook

        The woman just came out angry, she didn’t know Jammeh was recording

        • Julius

          I would not say angry but, knew the dude is delusional and tired of his bullshit. By the way, people in their position always assume that they are been tape especially when dealing with morons like Jammeh

          • Jumpingbrook

            Lol

          • Julius

            Na so my brother !

  • sammyctu ode

    Jammeh you have been ruling Gambia for 22 years yet you could not empower your own people to become lawyers and be judges. You have to depend on foreign judges to adjucate cases, is that progress for you after 22 years in charge? Why are some African leaders so deranged and yet they want to cling to power after ruining their own people? You are just a coward animal and by the time the ECOWAS special forces dismantle yrag tag army of only 1, 000 thugs then capture you and send you to The Hague for the rest of your life it will finally dawn on you that you have been a lousy bully for so many years. You are a total stark illiterate that have been ruling Gambia by force for so long. No mercy for you even in hell.

  • ALBERT

    Jammeh should understand that, ECOWAS is completely different from CEMEC, SADC and East Africa Union on the issue of political transition of member states. The Ecowas unlike others have a Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy. Unlike other regional blocs peopled with live Presidents, Constitutional monarchs and Heads of State, Ecowas member states have embraced democracy and ECOWAS Commission is ever ready to go at any length to defend Democracy and the political will and choice of the people.. Unfortunately for Jammeh, most of Ecowas Heads of state were former opposition leaders. Jammeh is simply confused and hanging on straws to suffer. It is funny for Jammeh to be relying on institutions especially the Judiciary, he has so much bastardized , abused and humiliated. Gambian Judges have simply refused to take up appointments at the Bench for obvious reasons. In one breathe, Jammeh is condemning Ecowas for interfering into its internal affairs. In another breathe, he is relying on Ecowas Member states to administer and manage the Judiciary, and arm of govt. Jammeh 22 years is enough. He will be smoked out like a rat.

    • Victor Ntekim

      Did you say democracy. Don’t tell me you have democracy in West Africa, nay Nigeria.

  • blueeyedkitten

    jammeh is right here! so also sirleaf. nobody should take any military action against the gambia. it should be the very last resort. ECOWAS should show the world how this kind of impasse can be resolved with guns.

    • Trevor

      If you lose elections you must hand over to the winner. Fair and simple. We must stop this in africa now before it becomes common practice on the continent.

      • blueeyedkitten

        he is challenging the outcome of the election, and he has every right to do that according to their constitution. if you dont want that, then you change the constitution.
        since this is democracy, then you’d have to obey the constitution. or has he acted outside the constitution?

        • Patrick Kayode

          He sure has the right. But if his tenure ended before the resolution at the court, he must leave . If after barrow is sworn in, the court rules that election should be reconducted or Jammeh wins, then the swon in president will vercate the seat. Date is of essence here.

          • Aminu Baba

            Hmmm, how I wish Lawrence Kabila, the Republic of Congo president, is listening to your conversations

        • Julius

          Yes and he can also continue to challenge the result after he hand over to the newly elected president.

          • blueeyedkitten

            then you’d have to change their constitution.

          • Julius

            Genius, tell me where in their Constitution does it says you can not hand over when you have been beaten in an election but, also challenge it in court ?

          • blueeyedkitten

            why dont you tell me where it says otherwise genius.

          • Julius

            I assume you would know since you brought up their Constitution. Why asking me ?. Going by your logic, if its not in there you can affixed it to fit your narrative… right ?

          • blueeyedkitten

            why dont you tell me….

          • Julius

            Smdh !! . You lost the argument.Next time try to talk about something that you know something abut. Take care !

          • blueeyedkitten

            clap clap! and you won.

          • Julius

            Nah, I don’t need to clap..just knowing that I educate/straight you out is good enuf for mi. Next time ask uncle Julius questions before you make a comment in public.
            • Edit• Reply•Share ›

          • blueeyedkitten

            alright einstein!

          • Julius

            lolz…respect ..a little.

          • Julius

            Nah, I don’t need to clap..just knowing that I educate/straight you out is good enuf for mi. Next time ask uncle Julius questions before you make a comment in public.

          • tundemash

            His tenure ends January 19th. Let him continue at the court else ECOWAS should use “all necessary means” to get rid of the lunatic. 22years is more than enough to have implemented whatever programme he wants to implement.

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  • Alpha

    If the ECOWAS leaders are not about setting a bad precedence, they should deploy the needed judges to the Gambia to give Jammeh a soft landing. Better than sending troops later.

  • callistus u owuamanam

    Mrs presidsent president Jonson – Sirleaf and the ECOWAS should not be allowed to be deceived by president Jammey.That man should shuold be booted out on the 19 January. No schemming should save him. Mrs president,if you allow this man to deceive you people, he will perpewtuate himself forever. Which supreme court is the president waiting to respect the outcome? This man is a dictator with a dirty human record, with no respect for the constitution. BOOT THIS MAN OUT, if he wants to contest the election, let him do it from outside. Nobody is expecting to see president Jammey, in fact the world does not want to see Jammey as the Gambian president after 18th january. Boot this man out and save the Gambia from chaos. Nobody will expect Mr Barrow to wait after 18th January, the inaguration has to be executed on the 19th January, period. President Jammey has done his best, what he cannot do for the Gambia in 22 years, that he cannot do even if you give him another 22 years. BOOT HIM OUT, BECAUSE THE GAMBIA NEEDS PEACE.

  • marc umeh

    He should have known the consequences of his conciding the election. All those privileges he has being enjoying all his life—- the honour guard , free everything , the worshipful paise of his sycophants , ability to lock people up if the oppose you and above all immunity from whatever.
    They will all be gone Sir. And it is too late to reconsider.