Amie Sanneh and Abdoulai G. Dibba
In a Press Conference held at Karaba Beach Hotel on Monday 16 January 2017, the spokesperson of the coalition Hon Halifa revealed to the press that on Friday, 12 January 2016, a delegation of the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS comprising the Chairperson, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Nigeria, President Muhammed Buhari, and Ex- President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, met Outgoing President Yahya Jammeh at the State House and President Elect Adama Barrow at the Coco Ocean Hotel.
According to Sallah, their mission was to assist in resolving the current obstacles that militate against the peaceful transfer of Executive Power after the 1st December 2016 Presidential Elections and that the meeting with President Jammeh which lasted for two hours gave rise to the articulation of his position.
The Coalition spokesperson noted that after highlighting what he considered to be numerous irregularities that emerged in the December 1, 2016 presidential election, as announced by the IEC Chairman in two separate sets of results, he reaffirmed his commitment to a peaceful resolution of the impasse in accordance with the Constitution of The Gambia through the courts and called for a return to the polls.
On their part he said, the delegation declared that they are here to find a peaceful solution to the impasse arising out of the rejection of the Election Results and reiterated their willingness to assist the two sides to come to an agreement based on the Gambian Constitution and that the Mediators met President- Elect Adama Barrow and two Commissioners of the IEC.
President-Elect Barrow, on his part Sallah said, maintained that the casting and counting of votes were monitored by all the stakeholders and all the participants knew the results before they were announced and indicated that the proper Authority has declared him a winner and the Constitution has made it clear that he should take Oath and assume office on the day the term of Office of President Jammeh expires.
He said the office =that the Court case of a loser has never barred winners from assuming office in Ghana and Nigeria before the conclusion of hearing and should not bar him from assuming office when Outgoing President Jammeh’s term expires.
The IEC, on its part the Coalition spoke person went further to say, has been very professional and discipline as an umpire and has not been tempted to make any public statements to answer to the allegations of impropriety by the APRC aided and abated by the National Broadcaster (GRTS) that has literally become the mouth piece of the loser.
Sallah pointed out that at the end of the Mission, His Excellency President Muhammed Buhari, President of Nigeria, declared his commitment to a peaceful resolution and conveyed that the delegation will submit a report to the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State for consideration and that the delegation further told President Jammeh that they would like to travel with President-Elect Barrow to Mali so that he would be heard by all the Heads of State to enable them to speed up mediation.
‘Since then the delegation continues to be in touch with both President Jammeh and President Elect Barrow’ Coalition spoke person Sallah stated.
Hon Sallah underscored that all the stakeholders claim that they are pursuing a peaceful resolution of the impasse in the transfer of Executive power after the 1st December Presidential Election based on the dictates of the Gambian Constitution, then he said, there is need to build a consensus on what is proper, reasonable and justifiable in terms to the transfer of executive power after an Election.
He argued that the Consensus being propagated by the Office of President-Elect Barrow is clear and it is premised on the fact that sovereignty resides in the Gambian people and all authority to govern must be derived from the consent of the people.
He noted that this is why Section 41 empowers the IEC to conduct elections. Section 43 (2) of the Constitution orders that: “The Commission shall announce the results of all elections and referenda for which it is responsible.” In every Election there must be a winner and loser. The Constitution gives rights to both losers and winners in an Election contest.
Halifa underscored that once declared elected as President by The IEC, the winner has the right to assume office. This is stipulated by Section 63 Subsection (2) of the Constitution which states:“ The person declared elected as President shall take the prescribed oaths and assume office on the day the term of office of the incumbent President expires.”
He noted that this is in line with the 2006 amendment of the Constitution, Act No. 9, 2006. President –Elect Barrow who is declared the winner of the 1st December polls should therefore assume office when incumbent President Jammeh’s term expires.
Suffice to say he went on, Section 63 Subsection 1 has indicated when the term of an Elected President should expire. It states: “The term of office of an elected President shall, subject to subsection (3) and (6), be for a term of five years; and the person elected President shall before assuming office take the prescribed oaths.”
Hence he said, President Jammeh who assumed office in January 2012 cannot be in Office after 18 January 2017, that would be unconstitutional.
Secondly he went on, he is not declared a winner by the IEC after the 1st December polls, hence he cannot be sworn in as President.
Thirdly, the Office of President cannot be kept vacant, hence the only development that is proper, reasonable and justifiable under the Constitution is for the person declared elected to assume office.
Halifa went on to reveal that Section 49 of the Constitution provides the loser with the right to file Election Petition. It states: “Any registered political party which has participated in the Presidential election may apply to the Supreme Court to determine the validity of the election of a President by filing a petition within ten days of the declaration of the result of the election.”
He said the loser has gone to Court and that the inadequacy of the Composition of the Court and lack of proof of service has led to an adjournment to May or November 2017.
On the other hand he said, the loser has also tried to rely on the Court to get the Inauguration suspended until the Election Petition is heard and deliberated on and that the Chief Justice has also recused from the case since the prayers seek to bar him from Presiding over the Swearing in ceremony. The case is adjourned indefinitely.
Now Halifa said, they are confronted with a situation of a countdown to the expiration of term of office of the incumbent and what is in the National interest is for the person declared elected to be sworn and leave the Court cases to take their course and have their impact as and when they are decided.
‘This is the dictate of law and reason and it is incontrovertible’ stated Halifa Sallah.
Halifa pointed out that the Office of the President-Elect wishes to be known that it was invited by the IEC for explanation on the issuing of two results after the 1st December polls and it is not perturbed by the explanation given which ought to be shared for the sake of clarity.
He said the IEC explained that the error that led to two different results was caused by excel shift. In short, the tabulation of all the results excluding the Basse Administrative Area were correct and stood as follows:
TOTAL RESULTS EXCLUDING BASSE
ADAMA BARROW – 199606
YAHYA JAMMEH -183997
MAMMA KANDEH – 78479
The IEC indicated that the total votes cast in the BASSE ADMINISTRATIVE AREA was 63, 909 and it was distributed as follows:
ADAMA BARROW: 28102
YAYA JAMMEH: 24490
MAMMA KANDEH: 11289
Hence he said, if this was added properly to the votes of the Candidates, the total results, including Basse, would be as follows :
ADAMA BARROW: 227708
YAHYA JAMMEH: 208487
MAMMA KANDEH: 89768
According to the IEC Halifa said, there was excel shift which took the total figure for Basse to Adama Barrow’s column, the total vote for Adama Barrow for Basse to Yahya Jammeh’s column and the total vote for Yahya Jammeh for Basse to Mamma Kandeh’s column.
This he said, gave the total number of votes due to the error as follows:
ADAMA BARROW: 199606 + 63909 = 263515
YAYA JAMMEH: 183997 + 28102 = 212099
MAMMA KANDEH: 78479 + 24490 = 102969
‘This is how matters stand’ he stated.
‘19th January is a historic day in the National Calendar that is fast approaching. The Nation is in readiness for the first peaceful transfer of Executive power. Our homeland is waiting to be united in diversity. It is waiting to breathe new life to our spirit of nationhood and our sense of belonging as a people, despite our ethno-linguistic origin, religion or gender’ stated the Coalition spoke person.
‘We have the opportunity to give Gambia a new start or throw the country another generation behind our point of departure’ he said.
Sallah asserted that all Gambians have to make a choice today or tomorrow and that they could suspend the decision but must make it, that a peaceful transfer of Executive power is a win –win situation and that the Ex- President would occupy the Office of Ex-President with all its rights and privileges as Ex-President Jawara, and that the National Assembly, Judiciary, Police, Military, Civil Service, etc. would remain and reforms would be conducted to make them people centred in service delivery.
On the other hand he said, if there is change by force, everything would be torn asunder and everything would be done to put the pieces together and that the road to certainty and uncertainty is before each Gambian.
‘If all Gambians, civilian and disciplined force or military agree to the peaceful route of transferring power, no one who is opposed to this could impose one’s will on the rest and that the peace and development of the country is in our hands’ he stated.
In conclusion he said ‘The Gambian people have no other homeland except the Gambia, we need to build a Gambia that is fit for all of us to live in; A Gambia that we will be proud to bequeath to our children and our children’s children is what we are challenged to commence building on 19th January 2017, we should all owe allegiance to our motherland and be ever true to it, Forward Ever! Backward Never’! He concluded.