By Kebba Jeffang
The spokesperson of the incoming Coalition Government Halifa Sallah, while delivering a statement on behalf of the President-elect Adama Barrow, said anytime a national leader speaks, it should inspire certainty and hope and not uncertainty and despair.
He said this at a press conference yesterday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in response to the statement made by the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh while addressing the nation in his annual New Year message on 31st December, 2016.
“President Elect Barrow has requested for this statement to be issued in response to the salient points raised by the Outgoing President. The General Public should be informed that a National leader should speak for the people. The speech of a National leader should inspire certainty and hope rather than promote uncertainty and despair,” Sallah.
He said a New Year message from a Head of State is designed to take stock of the past and present and inspire people with hope for a better future. He added that the Public is fully aware that there is an Incoming and an Outgoing President in the Gambia, noting that the Incoming President Barrow has informed the Gambian people that he is declared the winner of the 1st December 2016 polls and is mandated by Section 63 Subsection 2 of the Constitution to assume office when the term of Outgoing President Jammeh expires this month which is projected to be on the 19th January 2017.
Sallah said the president “has therefore called on the Outgoing President to open up the channel of communication so that for the first time in Gambian history executive power would be transferred from an Outgoing President to an Incoming President through peaceful means. President Elect Barrow has emphasized in no uncertain terms that the only time the ECOWAS, AU and The UN would have a foothold in managing Gambian affairs is if the two Presidents fail to do what the Constitution of the Republic demands both of them to do with impeccable thoroughness.”
He said Section 41 of the Constitution of the Gambia has given the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) the mandate to conduct elections and Section 81 mandates it to announce the results which have been done and President Elect Barrow is the winner. He further said that Section 63 Subsection 2 makes it mandatory for President Jammeh to vacate office when his term expires and for President Elect Barrow to assume Office on that same day, which is scheduled for the 19th January 2017. President Elect Barrow, ECOWAS, AU and the UN have calculated their steps. He therefore said the outgoing President Jammeh should also calculate his steps so that no mistakes would be made that would undermine the peace and security of the country.
“It should be crystal clear that filing an election petition is a private matter of a loser in an election. It does not prevent mandatory constitutional processes from taking place. This is trite law. All students of electoral jurisprudence in Africa would have followed the election petitions in Nigeria, Ghana, etc. and should be able to advise the Outgoing President that an Election petition in court does not prevent any victor from being sworn to assume political office. This is the simple and elementary truth that Outgoing President Jammeh should take note of. Needless to say, when his term expires he would have no constitutional mandate to be in command of the armed forces of the Gambia or be duty bound to defend the sovereignty of the country. He would be a private citizen like everybody else.”
He said any President whose term of office expires who takes up arms against an Incoming President whose term should begin according to law, would be regarded by the International Community as a rebel leader. This is the candid reading that any mature leader should derive from the declared position of ECOWAS and the rest of the International Community.
On the Election Petition, Sallah said it has been made very clear to the Gambian population that any Presidential candidate and his party could file elections petitions under Section 49 of the Constitution when one has grievances. He added that even though, President-elect Barrow and the Coalition were privy to the fact that there was counting at polling stations which enabled the parties to know the results before they were declared by the IEC and that campaign is not being done to discredit the APRC petition.
“Clarification is only made to make the people to have faith that the results are incapable of distortions which compelled the IEC to remedy the mistakes made in the computation. In his address to the Nation, the outgoing President, however, showed the seed of uncertainty by claiming that the “Chairman of the IEC invited all political parties to the headquarters of IEC to inform them of its errors and its rectification of the figures without specifying the number of votes transported and added to Adama Barrow nationwide,” Sallah told the journalists.