Sherif Tambedou, interim president of the Gambia Bar Association

(JollofNews) – Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh’s decision to annul the results of the presidential election is a violation of the constitution and tantamount to treason, says the Bar Association of the Gambia.

The association which represents all lawyers in the country called on Mr Jammeh to respect the result of the December 1st election and immediately hand over power peacefully to President-elect Adama Barrow in line with the sovereign will of the people of the Gambia.

“Any further course of action will jeopardise the peace and stability of our country. We also call on other professional bodies, unions, civil society organisations, the civil and public service and the security forces to respect the will of the people and pledge their allegiance the president-elect,” said Sherif Tambedou, interim president of the association.

Tension is currently high in the small West African nation with a population of less than two million after Mr Jammeh annulled the results of December 1st presidential election.

The results were called in favour of Adama Barrow and his opposition coalition.

Mr Jammeh had initially conceded defeat and praised the country’s electoral system as rigged proof. He changed his mind a week later citing huge and unacceptable mistakes by the electoral commission.

A later media statement issued by his party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) said he was  challenging the results at the Supreme Court of the Gambia.

But the bar association said the rhethoric of Mr Jammeh’s party further compounds his illegitimate and destabilising actions.

It added: “While under normal circumstances the right to petition against election results thus exist, the situation in the Gambia now is that there is no constituted supreme court. The Gambia Bar Association 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.

President Jammeh

“In the circumstance, it will be against the principles of natural justice for the outgoing president to appoint supreme court judges to hear a petition file by him or on his behalf. That would be tantamount  to one being a judge in ones own course considering that the outgoing president  has already preempted  the outcome of the court process by declaring the outcome of election results as a nullity.”

The association said Mr Jammeh must not be appointing judges who should have been since 2015 and in the present circumstances, any supreme court he impaneled for the purposes of hearing his election petition would be fundamentally tainted.

He added 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.

It added: “We 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 election and to further respect the regional and international human rights instruments binding on the Gambia.

“We as 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 results of this election and handover power to the president-elect.”