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PALU disassociates itself from AfBA’s actions on Gambia

Dec 22, 2016, 10:02 AM

The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) has issued a strong statement vehemently disassociating itself from the statements and actions taken by the African Bar Association (AfBA) on the current legal and political nightmares in The Gambia.

 The African Bar Association on Tuesday without consent from its affiliate, The Gambia Bar Association, held a meeting with outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and assured him of their support particularly in instituting the vacant Supreme Court in The Gambia to hear his petition challenging the election results.

 You may recall that The Gambia went to the polls on December 1st in which incumbent President Yahya Jammeh was defeated by opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow.

Mr Jammeh conceded defeat and after a week, made a surprising U-turn by rejecting the results and declaring the results null and void, thereby violating the constitutions. He further announced that he was filing a petition to the court which has been vacant since May 2015 and has not been functioning.

 In a letter addressed to the Gambia Bar Association disassociating itself from the actions of the Africa Bar Association, Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) said they are in solidarity with The Gambia Bar Association at this sensitive time and support the positions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) with regard to The Gambia.

 Below is the full text of the statement;

Re: Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) dissociates itself from the statements and actions taken by the African Bar Association (AfBA)

 I have been instructed by the President and the Executive Committee (Board) of PALU to write to you to continue to express our solidarity with you at this sensitive time in your country, and also to dissociate ourselves from and condemn the Statements and actions apparently undertaken by the African Bar Association (AfBA). We stand by our own Statement on the situation in The Gambia, which we issued on 12th December 2016. We also support the positions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) with regard to the Gambia.

 We look forward to full implementation of the Decisions of the ECOWAS Summit held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria this past Saturday, 17th December 2016. The AfBA position flies in the face of, and contradicts, the unanimous position of ECOWAS, AU and UN, and indeed of PALU. It flies in the face of, and contradicts, international law. It is, simply put, unlawful.

 We highlight that we, as PALU, have nothing to do with AfBA. We consider AfBA to be a fraudulent organisation that does not represent anyone other than its few individual promoters. It has no known membership on the African continent. It does not speak for African lawyers or lawyers’ associations (Bar Associations and Law Societies). It has no known constituency. If it considered the Gambian Bar Association (GBA) to be its member association, there is no way it would have ‘parachuted’ directly into the State House of The Gambia, to meet the outgoing President of The Gambia, without consulting its member!

 We advise that the GBA treat that action with the contempt it deserves, but that you go ahead and inform the Gambian citizenry and the international community that you neither recognise AfBA nor does it represent the African legal profession. The PALU Board has directed me to do the same, and we will shortly put out a Statement in this regard.

 Meanwhile, may I just recall our email to you of 13th November 2015 (attached herein for ease of reference) when we addressed this issue of AfBA.

 Donald Deya

Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU)

PALU Statement on the situation in The Republic of The Gambia

The Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) congratulates the people of The Republic of The Gambia for holding free, fair, credible and orderly elections on 1st December 2016, and for maintaining peace, law and order throughout the election period to date. We also applaud the high level of transparency of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of The Gambia, as they professionally fulfilled their mandate in overseeing the electoral process. We applaud the leadership and steadfastness of Mr. Alieu Mamour Njie, Head of the IEC, who courageously announced the results amidst great political pressure and expectation, and who promptly corrected errors that the IEC noted in the process. We also acknowledge the timely concession of the outgoing President, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, which was broadcast live on television and watched by the entire world.

We are therefore baffled by the unexpected and dangerous about-turn that President Yahya Jammeh made on the evening of 9 December 2016, rejecting the entire election exercise, and calling for a fresh election process under a new IEC. We strongly condemn this belated attempt by the outgoing President to reverse the will of the Gambian electorate. We highlight that it is not the role of any candidate to officially declare or cancel election results and/ or constitute the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). We have held extensive consultations with the legal profession and civil society in The Gambia and in Western Africa, and established that the Supreme Court of the Gambia is currently not constituted and further that its recent conduct has lost it credibility and legitimacy in the country and in the region. In any case, the incumbent cannot now single-handedly constitute a Court to hear his own electoral petition.

We support the statements already issued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), which point out that outgoing President Yahya Jammeh’s actions are a violation of the Constitution and laws of The Republic of the Gambia, amount to treason and also to the crime of unconstitutional change of Government as defined by the ECOWAS Protocol on Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG). We note with appreciation the efforts of a number of Heads of States and senior officials of West African States to undertake high-level diplomacy to assist the people of The Gambia to find a sustainable solution, in the shortest time possible, to the crisis that outgoing President Yahya Jammeh has plunged the country.

We reiterate that, should these efforts not bear results in the shortest possible time, the AU is obliged to activate the provisions of its laws, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the Peace and Security Protocol of the African Union.

As the ECOWAS leadership prepares to gather in Banjul on Tuesday 13th December 2016, we urge Presidents Johnson-Sirleaf, Conde and Koroma to ensure that a swift reversal of the outrageous and unacceptable pronouncements by out-going President Jammeh is effected, failing which we call for swift application of appropriate measures to state party violations, according to the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, its Supplementary Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy and its Rules of membership as well as ACDEG

PALU will continue to monitor the situation in The Gambia, and will shortly organize its own high-level delegation into the country, which will, among other things, examine the state of the Judiciary, and offer practical support to our member, The Gambia Bar Association. We will also continue working with ECOWAS and the AU, and ensuring they fully undertake their obligations to the people of The Republic of The Gambia and West Africa.

Source: PALU Website