By Kebba Jeffang
The Gambia Bar Association of the Gambia (GBA) on Monday, 12 December, strongly condemned the announcement by the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh on Friday when he rejected the results. According to the professional lawyers, the said statement is in contravention of section 49 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia.
This was disclosed at a press briefing organised by the Bar association after a day-long engagement with renown professionals including Surahata Semega-Janneh, Antouman Gaye, Amie Bensouda, Sheriff Tambedou amongst others held at a hotel in Senegambia.
Addressing the journalists, Sheriff Marie Tambedou, the acting president of GBA, said such act is also in their considered opinion an abrogation of the Constitution and an attempt to subvert the legitimate decision of the people of the Gambia. He further said that the action is tantamount to treason under the provisions of section 6(1) of the Constitution.
“We reject the subsequent statement by the APRC party that it intends to file an election petition against the results published by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). The rhetoric of the APRC further compounds the illegitimate and destablising actions of the outgoing president,” said the acting president.
Senior practising lawyer Tambedou added that while under normal circumstances the right to petition against the results does exist, the situation in the Gambia now is that there is no constituted panel of the Supreme Court. The GBA notes with concern that since May, 2015, there has not been a sitting Supreme Court session due to the absence of a panel.
“This is despite several reminders issued to the Chief Justice by the members of the Bar. In the circumstance; it would be against principles of natural justice for the outgoing president to appoint Supreme Court judges to hear a petition filed by him or on his behalf. That would tantamount to one being a judge in his own cause considering that the outgoing president has already pre-empted the outcome of court process by declaring the election result as a nullity. It is the position of the GBA that the outgoing president must not be appointing judges who should have been appointed since 2015,” he said.
He said in the present circumstance, any Supreme Court empanelled by the outgoing president Jammeh for the purposes of hearing his election petition would be fundamentally tainted.
“The Gambia Bar Association therefore states that there is no legitimate legal mechanism available in the Gambia to hear and determine the election petition filed by outgoing President Jammeh or on his behalf. Under the circumstances we call on outgoing president to respect the outcome of the December, 2016 elections and hand power peacefully to president-elect Adama Barrow in line with the sovereign will of the people of the Gambia. Any course of action will jeopardize the peace and stability of our country,” said Tambedou.
The Bar also called on other professional bodies, unions, civil society organizations, the civil and public service and the security forces to respect the will of the people and pledge their allegiance to the president-elect.
“We also call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights headquartered here in the Gambia to strongly urge the outgoing president to respect the outcome of the just concluded presidential elections and to further respect the relevant regional and international human rights instruments binding on the Gambia. We ask all members of the Bar association and staff of the judiciary in particular to boycott the courts in solidarity with the people until such time as the Government of the outgoing President Jammeh accepts the result of these election and hand over power to the president-elect,” Tambedou concluded.