(JollofNews) – What happened in the Gambia is very interesting. Never before in the past 22 years did we have such interference from outside in our electoral process which obviously is unacceptable.
We have had four presidential elections in this country during my time and at no election did we have such problems that we encountered. Unusual problems. And I believe in the peaceful resolution of conflicts but I also believe in one thing whatever Allah decides is what is going to happen.
Yes, I accepted the results based on what I thought was true. For the first time in the history of this country over 360,000 people out of over 800,000 registered voters did not turn up and there was no explanation for this. Even the commentators on radio and television were saying this is not possible and we need an explanation for this.
At first, I said maybe this was voter apathy and believing that what used to happen in the past elections had happened – when the electoral commission is independent and honest and that they would do a fair job, I accepted the results. In previous elections, the then IEC made sure that they followed the electoral laws of the country to latter by dispelling any room for complaints.
So when the final results were announced and believing that the same system was used, I s accepted the results and said this is the verdict of the people and my destiny. I accepted it in good faith and congratulated the person [Mr Barrow].
I called the then president-elect because he was then declared the winner and congratulated him and even talked about a transition period.
But after that, the electoral commission did what has never happened in my life time and even during the time of the previous government. The Monday after the results were announced, the IEC called all the political parties to its headquarters and issued the following statement:
“The tabulation of the 2016 Presidential election results from 53 constituencies was done correctly. Furthermore, regional election results were also tabulated correctly from Banjul to Basse Administrative Areas. However, when the total votes per region were being tallied, certain figures were inadvertently transposed.
“Instead of adding the total number of votes polled by Adama Barrow in Basse administrative area, the IEC added the total number of ballots cast for Basse administrative area to Adama Barrow’s total number of votes thus swelling the number of votes Mr Barrow polled nationally. This error was repeated across for other contesting candidates. Having noticed this, the error is now corrected and this is the actual results.”
You will realise that they didn’t say the number that was involved and how they rectified it was not also mentioned. This is not acceptable and the opposition and the West would not have accepted the results if that was said about me. They have an agenda. Their problem in Africa is Yahya Jammeh and other heads of state and I stand to die for what I believe in. Because you are white or whatever colour doesn’t mean that I should worship you. Those days were gone when were their slaves and colonies and they were our colonial masters.
I also I started receiving reports a day after I conceded defeat about some of the things that happened on polling day that led to 300,000 plus people not voting.
We realised that in some big populated areas my agents were not allowed in some major polling stations from 8am to 1300 until the local governor intervened. One of the electoral laws of the Gambia says no polling or voting should start at a polling station unless all parties have their representatives at the polling station.
My agents made everything possible so they can go to the polling stations but they were denied. In the past four elections, we made sure that security officers did not interfere with the election and this time there was less security presence. Because each time I won, the opposition and the West say horrible lies about me but this is normal with people who don’t have moral values.
I also noticed that when the results were being announced that the name of my agents were mentioned as signatories to the results of two different constituencies.
We also realised so many abnormalities. For example, some voters went to polling stations where they were supposed to vote with their valid voters’ cards issued by the IEC only to find out that while the picture, name and address on their voter’s cards are correct, the serial number on their cards did not tally with the one on the voter register and on the basis of that they were not allowed to vote.
In previous elections, you are always allowed to vote if you have a valid voter’s card because IEC will always say there was an error in their master copy.
We also realised in certain polling stations where we were not represented that some people told voters that the opposition has already won and there was no point in them voting or should rather add their votes to the opposition’s. Some people being angry with that decided to go home.
Also in Garawol, which have always voted massively for us and had six polling stations in the past four elections, the IEC set up only one polling station despite protests by the locals, thereby disenfranchising our voters from voting.
Furthermore, in previous elections like in other elections all over the world, people who are already in the queue before polling close are always allowed to vote but this time round, people some of whom travelled some good distance, were not allowed to vote even though they were in the queue before the poll closed. This is also unacceptable.
This is the situation that we are challenging. We want to make sure that everyone votes in the election. Everybody is given the right to vote freely and so we rejected the results and I rejected it up today.
Now there are also other factors that transpired during the elections that we will talk about off record. What we are asking for is not for the IEC to declare me winner. I cannot do that because everything is already messed up.
What we are asking for is for us to go back to the electorate under an independent electoral system that would supervise the election without any problem and allow every Gambian to vote. The whole system was a set up. Even before the elections, some statements were made that this time round Yahya must go. I will only go when people say so.
When the mediation team from Ecowas came here, I explained everything to them and gave them documents to that effect explaining why I have reversed from my earlier acceptance to non-acceptance based on the facts.
But even before we got the notification that they were coming, we had documents from a foreign government (which is not even an African country) saying they are going to send these people to talk to me to change my mind otherwise there will be bloodshed. So in order to avoid bloodshed, I must accept what I said earlier and also leave the country and take a break because if I stay around I may interfere with the democratisation process. Who are they to tell me to leave my country?
So, after my meeting with them, they went and met the other side. They later came back and told me that despite what I said the results that was announced are the will of the Gambian people. I told them how the hell do you know that this is the will of the Gambian people when 360,000 have not voted? How can this be the will of Gambians when 40 per cent of the registered voters didn’t vote for the first time in the election history of this country and when even the IEC has admitted making mistakes?
They said well we spoke to the IEC and the other side and this is the will of the Gambian people. I made it clear to them that I will not accept it and that’s where I stand until today.
They said they are going to have a meeting in Abuja and they asked whether I will be attending and I said no but would send a representative. Already the meeting was a formality because even the Ecowas people came, the UN was saying I must step down and the so-called president-elect was emboldened also said I must step down immediately. I will not step down because this is disrespectful of our constitution because we have a transition period of 60 days. Even when you have won legally, you have 60 days transition to handover.
So what role has the UN got to say I must step down immediately and also brought foreign security for him [Adama Barrow] because he has no confidence in the Gambian Armed Forces. They did not inform me about these foreign security officers securing him even though I am still the president and commander-in-chief of this country.
Furthermore, although some Ecowas member states did not agree to the final declaration, yet they went ahead and state among other things that I should handover power and all Ecowas heads of state would be in Banjul on January 19th for the inauguration of the president-elect.
This is a violation of the Ecowas rule that calls for non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. And knowing that we have got a strong case, they say we should not go to the courts and irrespective of the courts’ decision (they know I will go to the court) they will enforce the results of the December 1st election. Let them enforce it today and see. What are they waiting for?
I want to assure you that I have no reason to cheat and I will never cheat because the next world is more important to me. My relationship with Allah is more important than my relationship with any creature.
I will not be intimidated by any power in this world. I want to make sure that justice is done. I am a man of peace but I cannot also be a coward. My rights cannot be violated and intimidated to a point where I succumb to blackmail. I will never do that and this is my position.
All what we want is a peaceful resolution of the conflict by Gambians based on the decision of the Gambians. I am a man of peace but it does not mean that I will not defend myself and my country courageously and will emerge victoriously. No one can deprive me of that victory except the Almighty Allah.
President Yahya Jammeh was talking to members of the African Bar Association on Tuesday at State House, Banjul.