(JollofNews) – A desperate President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia Sunday telephoned the chairperson of the regional bloc, Ecowas, and pleaded for assistance with Supreme Court judges to preside over his election petition.
In a recorded phone conversation aired on state television with Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mr Jammeh said he want to resolve the election dispute peacefully through the court in line with the provisions of the Gambian constitution.
Mr Jammeh is facing sustained international pressure to handover power at the end of his term on Wednesday after his defeat in last month’s election by opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
He had initially conceded defeat and praised the country’s electoral system as rigged proof, but changed his mind a week later and declared the results null and void citing huge and unacceptable mistakes by the electoral commission.
Mr Jammeh 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 the court is unable to hold a hearing until May – as most of the judges come from neighbouring countries – and Mr Jammeh has said he is going nowhere until then even though his mandate ends on January 18th.
Leaders of the 15-nation regional bloc Ecowas who have unsuccessfully failed to convince Mr Jammeh to handover power peacefully intends to seek the United Nations to approve military action if Mr Barrow’s inauguration on Thursday is blocked.
And as the date nears, Mr Jammeh is desperately finding ways to buy himself time. He has recalled parliament to amend the constitution and extend his mandate and has also filed an injunction at the Supreme Court seeking to block Mr Barrow’s nomination.
Below is a transcript of the phone conversation between Mr Jammeh and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Sirleaf: Hello
Mr Jammeh: Walaikum Salam [Peace be unto you]
President Sirleaf: Okay I can hear you. You wanted to talk to me again?
Mr Jammeh: Yes. With regards to our last meeting when you came here, I want to request your assistance as the chairperson of the Ecowas authority of head of states to help us resolve this impasse peacefully through the courts. I hereby request to you for Ecowas to facilitate the release of the judges so that they can come and help us resolve the matter constitutionally through the constitution of the Gambia. As I said, the only peaceful resolution of this impasse is through the courts.
Everything that we agreed is based on the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia and an application has already been filed to the Supreme Court of the Gambia for an injunction to restrain Mr Adama Barrow from being sworn-in as well as restraining the Chief Justice and any other party from swearing-in Adama Barrow into office until this application is decided either way and the status quo much remain.
That is, until such time that the Supreme Court has made a decision on this, the status quo cannot change. Under the constitution of the Gambia, the so-called date of 19th January is not cast in stone as we have an injunction in the court and we have a problem with our elections. All parties should await the outcome of the Supreme Court, which will be the only legal entity to trash out this case once and for all. I want to assure you that whatever we want to do will be based on the Constitution of the Gambia, which is the supreme authority.
So I am once again renewing my request to you as the chair to request for Ecowas to facilitate the coming of the judges so that they can hear this case as soon as possible. I count on you.
President Sirleaf: Okay Mr President. Like I told you on Thursday, I am going to work on this right away. I am going to consult with all the leaders and tell them what you have said. Like I told you before, it will be a good idea if you put it out as a statement. Just like we agreed before, a short statement coming from you will be very important for the mediating team.
A statement coming from you requesting the Ecowas body that you only want peace and you are going to follow the constitution as an exception, we will try to get those judges for you. And the court’s decision will be the way to go. A small statement like that will make everybody comfortable. Then we can move on and then encourage Nigeria and other people to get those justices coming there.
Mr Jammeh: I promise you that I will do it today and I am going to do it today my sister.
President Sirleaf: Okay.
Mr Jammeh: I give you my word.
President Sirleaf: Okay, thank you so much.
Mr Jammeh: Thank you so much all the best.
President Sirleaf: Thank you for helping us to all find peace. Gambia needs peace and Ecowas need peace.
Mr Jammeh: InShaAllah [Allah willing]. I guarantee you that by the grace of Allah we will work for a peaceful resolution.
President Sirleaf: Alright.
Mr Jammeh: Thank you.
Mr Jammeh’s statement
Earlier today, I spoke with my sister and friend, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia and chair of the authority of head of states of Ecowas.
I have confirmed with Her Excellency our continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of our political situation within the confines of our constitution and other laws of the Gambia.
I have confirmed that we have filed an application for an injunction to restrain Mr Adama Barrow from being sworn-in as well as restraining the Chief Justice and any other party from swearing-in Mr Adama Barrow until the application is decided by the Supreme Court of the Gambia and until then the status quo remains.
I have repeated my request to Her Excellency as chair of the authority of Ecowas head of states to help and urgently facilitate the availability of the Supreme Court judges.
I have confirmed that in our constitution, the so-called deadline of the 19th January 2017 is not cast in stone and all parties shall await the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court.
I again herein confirmed that InShaAllah this matter shall resolve peacefully and constitutionally.
I asked all Gambians and those resident in the Gambia to go about their normal businesses and i assured you all that InShaAllah the Gambia shall continue to maintain its peace, security and stability.