Jammeh reiterates call for fresh election, vows to defend Gambia

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

President Yahya Jammeh has reiterated his call for a fresh election, while delivering his traditional New Year message to the nation on state TV on Saturday 31 December 2016. He also vowed to defend The Gambia against external aggression.

‘’What we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their president,” the president said in his New Year message.

He said the “unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies in the elections, coupled with the findings of investigations conducted which also unearthed anomalies,” aroused his suspicion of “the impartiality and honesty of the current Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)”.

The full New Year Message of President Jammeh is featured below:

PRESIDENT JAMMEH NEW YEAR STATEMENT

Fellow Gambians, and friends of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia. We thank Allah for his blessings and of life to allow us to witness yet the dawn of another year in the Gregorian calendar.

I take this opportunity to wish all Gambians, non-Gambians resident in The Gambia and all friends of The Gambia the world over, a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year and a more prosperous 2017 for the benefit of all humankind.

It has become a tradition that when we enter a new year, we as God fearing people, renew our faith in Allah, our submission to his will and our pledge to do good and avoid satanic temptations to do evil.

Fellow Gambians, I believe it is also an occasion to strengthen our commitment to the letter and spirit of the Gambia national anthem, particularly the sacrosanct of justice as the guide of our actions towards the common good and the cementing of unity amongst our diverse people.

Fellow Gambians, it is the pursuit of justice as provided for in the constitution of the Gambia that serves as the basis of my protest and rejection of the December 1st presidential election, after my initial conceding of defeat and offer to guide and counsel Adama Barrow in the execution of his duties. Given that all previous elections since i became president of the Gambia were conducted with the undoubted competence and impartiality of the independent electoral commission (IEC), i conceded defeat with the belief that the results announced by the IEC on December 2nd 2016 were accurate and genuine.

However, when on Monday December 5th 2016, the chairman of the IEC invited all political parties to the headquarters of the commission to inform them of its counting errors and its rectification of the figures, without specifying the number of votes transposed and added to Adama Barrow nationwide, my suspicion of the impartiality and honesty of the current IEC and the falsification of the results was aroused.

The findings of further investigations unearthed abnormalities that vindicated this suspicion.

Given these unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies in the elections, what we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambian people to elect who they want to be their president in free and fair elections to be organised by a fresh, patriotic, Allah fearing, honest independent electoral commission just like it was under the leadership of Mr Carayol.

Thus, fellow Gambians, the principle moral behind my nullification of the result is that much as I will not cheat or allow anyone to cheat on my behalf, so will I not tolerate anyone to cheat me.

Yet, fellow Gambians, in spite of the fact that cheating is condemned by both Islam and Christianity, and that cheating in elections is prohibited by law and petition against flawed elections results provided for in our constitution, some interest groups and individuals have championed the campaign for my step down.

The campaign dismisses the legitimacy of my change of position after my initial concession of defeat.

Yet, my fellow Gambians, change for the better is commonplace in all decision-making processes in pursuit of good governance. Development programmes are modified to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and beneficiary participation in program implementation. Legislations are amended in response to emergent issues, and to buttress the efficacy of law enforcement. Court verdicts can also be subjected to appeals to ensure that justice prevails.

In the same vein, election results are petitioned to verify that the established rules and procedures have been impartially applied and observed, and that results accurately represent the will of the people and not results that have been cooked by the IEC in favour of a candidate.

This provision of post electoral petition is ensured in the constitution of the Gambia. Thus fellow Gambians, in filing a petition in the Supreme Court, I am merely acting in accordance with the oath I took to defend the constitution of the Gambia as your president and to exercise my right of appeal as a candidate during the presidential elections of 2016. Nevertheless, fellow Gambians, I have noticed that there are appeals in some quarters for me to step down.

This is tantamount to disregarding this constitutional provision that should govern the resolution of the current impasse.

Most if not all reasons advanced for the appeals for me to re-embrace my initial position are based on fears of a military confrontation that leads to violence and concern for an outbreak of war in this peaceful country of ours.

A military confrontation with whom? Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression and there will be no compromise on this.

My government will, Inshaa Allah, never opt for such confrontation unless when we are compelled to defend our sovereignty, independence and dignity.

Defending our sovereignty and total independence is a sacred duty for all patriotic Gambians, more so the Gambia armed forces.

What is clearly incontrovertible is that the decision of ECOWAS on the current situation to implement the results of the December 1st 2016 election by whatever means possible is totally illegal as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ECOWAS treaty.

It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution.

It is, therefore, absolutely unacceptable. This blatant impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ECOWAS is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate.

This partisanship of ECOWAS has also disqualified it to provide mediation services, as the genuine mediator has to be neutral and impartial to win the trust and confidence of the parties to a conflict. Thus, we will not enter into negotiations brokered by ECOWAS if it does not recognise that the provisions of the Gambian constitution provides the basic legal principles to guide the sorting out of the details of this stalemate, in order to arrive at a peaceful resolution legally binding on both of the Gambian parties.

Without this quest for justice within the context of the constitution of the Gambia and the elimination of the treat of use of force in the position of ECOWAS, the impasse will continue with the risk of escalating into a military confrontation.

We have in principle vehemently condemned violence, but we shall never condone injustice.

However, I wish to remind you, fellow Gambians that my government has an indisputable track record of peace. We came to power through a bloodless revolution and ensured the sustenance of peace throughout the last 22 years. We exported this culture of peace to troubled spots in the sub-region through successful mediation efforts that resolved such conflicts.

The Gambia national army has also established itself as a force of effective participants in peacekeeping in other parts of the world.

Thus, fellow Gambians, on the basis of deliberate policy, my government developed an atmosphere of peace and stability in our country and we remain strongly committed to guard the sustenance of this culture of peace that is the envy of many nations and we will defend it to the last person.

In conclusion, fellow Gambians, as we welcome the New Year 2017, I wish you all the best and the almighty Allah’s blessings to cleanse our hearts and minds of evil intentions and join us together for our common good. May Allah shower all of us with the divine virtues of faith, tawheed and iman in our hearts and minds to submit ourselves completely to Him alone and worship Him alone.

If all of us endeavour, through prayers and perseverance in good deeds, to cultivate and live by these godly moral standards, our socio-economic development achievements as a nation will be beyond imagination, Inshaa Allah. Long live the Islamic Republic of The Gambia. The Almighty Allah is the greatest.

I thank you all for your attention.  

Author: Mahamadou Camara
Source: Picture: President Jammeh