(JollofNews) – President Yahya Jammeh Tuesday told Gambians that he is ready to enter dialogue with the opposition and resolve the simmering political dispute in the country.
In a late televised address to the nation, Mr Jammeh said although he still strongly believes that he was cheated in the election, he is confident that Gambians can come together and resolve the election dispute and any other matter without external interference.
Mr Jammeh, 51, who has ruled the Gambia for 22 years last month suffered a surprised election defeat.
The election was called in favour of opposition candidate Adama Barrow who won more than 45% of the vote according to the country’s electoral commission.
Mr Jammeh had initially conceded defeat and praised the country’s electoral system as rigged proof. He changed his mind a week later and declared the results null and void citing huge and unacceptable mistakes by the electoral commission.
He later filed a suit at the supreme court asking judges to determine that Adama Barrow was not duly elected or returned as president, and that the said election was void.
But as tension continues with many civilians fleeing the urban area to the provinces and neighbouring countries, Mr Jammeh said he will personally take all possible steps within his conscience and law to end the standoff.
“I assure everyone that as a Gambian, a Muslim, and a family man, no foreigner can love this country and hold its highest interest at heart more than myself and the majority of Gambians. So I will also be taking all possible steps within the constitution and my conscience to do my part to resolve this impasse,” he said.
“Cabinet sat and we will continue to sit and liaise with the National Assembly to take all constitutional measures to make sure that the supremacy of the rule of law and the constitution in the next few days.”
Mr Jammeh added that to help find a solution to the impasse, he has tasked the country’s secretary-general and head of the civil service to meet with all stakeholders in the country and prepare a meeting so that all parties can be heard and resolve any mistrust and issues amongst themselves.
He added that the secretary-general will also work with the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly to draft a general amnesty bill to confirm and ensure that there is no witch-hunt in order restore a climate of confidence and security within constitutional mandate.
Mr Jammeh added: “In this connection, I hereby issue an executive order to that effect that nobody be arrested or prosecuted due to acts or omissions in the pre and post electoral period from November 1st 2016 to Jan 31st 2017.
“As the whole world has seen, we continue as a people to exhibit the highest degree of fraternity and despite the heated passions we have maintained to the highest degree the virtues of patience, tolerance and mutual respect across ethnic and faith lines.”
He appealed to Gambians to forgive each other especially the political leaders and ask them continue to work together to treat and consolidate peace and harmony in their beloved country.
He added: “As we are all human and bound to make mistakes, we therefore accept this as a test on our faith by Allah individually and collectively as believing people. I ask all Gambians and other nationals in the country to go about their business in peace and security and I assure you that Allah willing all will continue to be well and this will all be resolved in peace.”