Gambia Bar Association ‘condemns’ president’s statement annulling results of December 1 poll

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The umbrella body of lawyers in The Gambia has condemned in “the strongest possible terms” the 9th December statement of President Yahya Jammeh annulling results of the presidential election held in The Gambia on 1 December this year.

The Gambia Bar Association, in a press statement read out yesterday to the media by its President, at the Coco Ocean and Spa Hotel in Kerr Serign, stated:

“We reject the subsequent statement by the APRC that it intends to file an election petition against the results published by the Independent Electoral Commission.”

The following statement read out by a senior member of the Bar association, Lawyer Sheriff Tambedou, states:

“The Gambia Bar Association condemns in the strongest possible terms the announcement by President Yahya Jammeh made on Friday the 9th December 2016 wherein he declared the 1st December 2016 elections null and void.

“The said statement of the outgoing President contravenes the provisions of Section 49 of the 1997 Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia and, in our considered opinion, is an abrogation of the Constitution and an attempt to subvert the legitimate decision of the people of The Gambia. Furthermore, this action is tantamount to treason under the provisions of Section 6 (1) of the Constitution.

“We reject the subsequent statement by the APRC that it intends to file an election petition against the results published by the Independent Electoral Commission. The rhetoric of the APRC further compounds the illegitimate and destabilizing actions of the outgoing President.

“While under normal circumstances the right to petition against election 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 members of the Bar.

“In the circumstance, it would be against the 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 be tantamount to one being a judge in his own case 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 an outgoing President must not be appointing judges who should have been appointed since 2015.

“In the present circumstances, 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 the outgoing President Jammeh or on his behalf.

“Under the circumstances, we call on outgoing President Jammeh to respect the outcome of the December 2016 elections and, immediately, hand over power peacefully to President-elect Adama Barrow in line with the sovereign will of the people of The Gambia.

“Any other course of action will jeopardize the peace and stability of our country.

“We also call 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 instruments binding on The Gambia.

“We ask all members of the Bar Association and the 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 the election and hand over power to the President-elect.”