STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT ELECT ADAMA BARROW IN RESPONSE TO OUTGOING PRESIDENT JAMMEH‘S NEW YEAR MESSAGE
Outgoing President Jammeh has issued his New Year message. President Elect Barrow has requested for this statement to be issued in response to the salient points raised by the Outgoing President. The General Public should be informed that a National leader should speak for the people. The speech of a National leader should inspire certainty and hope rather than promote uncertainty and despair. A New Year message from a Head of State is designed to take stock of the past and present and inspire people with hope for a better future.
At this juncture, the Public is fully aware that there is an Incoming and an Outgoing President in the Gambia. The Incoming President has informed the Gambian people that he is declared the winner of the 1st December 2016 polls and is mandated by Section 63 Subsection 2 of the Constitution to assume office when the term of office of the Outgoing President expires this month. This is projected to occur on the 19th January 2017. He has therefore called on the Outgoing President to open up the channel of communication so that ,for the first time in Gambian history, executive power would be transferred from an Outgoing President to an Incoming one through peaceful means. President Elect Barrow has emphasised in no uncertain terms that the only time the ECOWAS, AU and The UN would have a foothold in managing Gambian affairs is if the two Presidents fail to do, with impeccable thoroughness, what the Constitution of the Republic demands of both Presidents.
Section 41 of the Constitution of the Gambia has given the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) the mandate to conduct elections and Section 81 mandates it to announce the results. This has been done and President Elect Barrow is the winner. Section 63 Subsection 2 makes it mandatory for President Jammeh to vacate office when his term expires and for President Elect Barrow to assume Office on that same day, which is scheduled for the 19th January 2017. President Elect Barrow, ECOWAS, AU and the UN have calculated their steps. Outgoing President Jammeh should also calculate his steps so that no mistakes would be made that would undermine the peace and security of the country.
It should be crystal clear that filing an election petition is the private matter of a loser in an election. It does not prevent mandatory constitutional processes from taking place. This is trite law. All students of electoral jurisprudence in Africa would have followed the election petitions in Nigeria, Ghana, etc. and should be able to advise the Outgoing President that an Election petition in court does not prevent any victor from being sworn in to assume political office. This is the simple and elementary truth that Outgoing President Jammeh should take note of. Needless to say, when his term expires he would have no constitutional mandate to be in command of the armed forces of the Gambia or be duty bound to defend the sovereignty of the country. He would be a private citizen like everybody else.
Any President whose term of office expires who takes up arms against an Incoming President whose term should begin according to law, would be regarded by the International Community as a rebel leader. This is the candid reading that any mature leader should derive from the declared position of ECOWAS and the rest of the International Community.
On The Election Petition
It has been made very clear to the Gambian population that any Presidential candidate and his party could file elections petitions under Section 49 of the Constitution when one has grievances. Even though, President Elect Barrow and the Coalition were privy to the fact that there was counting at polling stations which enabled the parties to know the results before they were declared by the IEC, campaign is not being done to discredit the APRC petition. Clarification is only made to make the people to have faith that the results are incapable of distortions which compelled the IEC to remedy the mistakes made in computation.
In his address to the Nation, the Outgoing President, however, sowed the seed of uncertainty by claiming that the “Chairman of the IEC invited all political parties to the headquarters of IEC to inform them of its errors and its rectification of the figures without specifying the number of votes transposed and added to Adama Barrow nationwide.” It is important to give some clarification by publishing what the IEC wrote. It reads:
“PRESS RELEASE ERROR IN THE TOTAL OF FINAL ELECTION RESULTS
The tabulation of the 2016 Presidential election results from the fifty three 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 Mr Adama Barrow in the Basse Administrative Areas, 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 the other contesting candidates.
Having noticed this, the error is now corrected and this is the actual result:
Barrow Adama 227,708 votes
Jammeh, Yayha A.J.J. Sheikh Prof. Alh. Dr. 208,487 votes
Kandeh, Mamma 89,768 votes
This result which has not changed the status quo was unanimously endorsed by the representatives of the contesting candidates at Election House this morning, 5th December 2016.” The IEC has explained what happened. It is only the APRC candidate who has decided to file an Election petition against the IEC. President Elect Adama Barrow is not made a party to the petition.
The Contradictory Remarks of the Outgoing President
The New Year message has altered the original remarks of the Outgoing President which made many people to call on him to step down now which is not in line with his constitutional mandate. President Elect Barrow has never called on him to step down. He has called on him to transfer power to him in peace when Outgoing President Jammeh’s term ends and his term begins. It is Outgoing President Jammeh who announced the annulment of the elections and the plan to hold new elections under a different electoral administration which had no constitutional basis. Now he is saying in his New Year message that “Giving this unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies in the elections, what we simply are asking for, is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their president in free and fair elections to be organized by a fresh, patriotic and god fearing honest electoral commission like it was under the leadership of Mr. Carayol.”
The Outgoing President is now expressing a wish instead of issuing a decree. Every human being is entitled to a wish. In addition the Outgoing President has indicated that instead of issuing a decree to nullify the elections and compel the people to go back to the polls he has resorted to court action for redress in the following words: “Fellow Gambians, in filing a petition to the Supreme Court, I merely acting in accordance to oath I took to defend the Constitution of the Gambia as president and to exercise my right to appeal as candidate during the presidential election of 2O16.”
This matter is now clear. Outgoing President Jammeh has a right to pursue Court action for redress. Incoming President Elect barrow has a right to prepare for his inauguration without paying any regard to the petition filed by the APRC candidate.
On the Dangers of Post Electoral Violence
Outgoing President Jammeh told the Nation in his New Year message: “There are appeals in some quarters for me to step down. This tantamounts to disregard to the Constitution’s provision that should govern the resolution of the court. Most, if not all, reasons advanced for me to change initial position are based on fears of a military confrontation that leads to violence and concerned for them to destroy this country of ours.” He claimed that ECOWAS is threatening to use force to get him to step down which would lead to resistance in defence of National Sovereignty but assured that his administration would never provoke violent confrontation but would always promote peace. He said ECOWAS would remain unsuitable to mediate unless the members recognise his right to go to the Court for redress.
The Way Forward
There are two parts to National Sovereignty. There is the sovereignty of territory or territorial Integrity and the sovereignty of citizens. The focal point now is the sovereignty of citizens who are empowered to decide who should have the authority to defend territorial integrity. Section 1 Sub Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The sovereignty of The Gambia resides in the people of The Gambia from whom all organs of government derive their authority and in whose name and for whose welfare and prosperity the power of government are to be exercised in accordance with this Constitution.”
The citizens have spoken. It is President Elect Barrow who has derived the authority to govern from the consent of the majority. The Constitution says that Outgoing President Jammeh should hand over executive power to him when his term expires. The road to peace is to prepare to hand over power to President Elect Barrow while pursuing the court case of to see redress. All those who are counselling for such peaceful transfer of power to be effected should be listened to as friends of the Gambia.
To conclude, one must assert that wherever there is a will there is a way. Hence, the peace of the country is in our hands. If we all have the will to safeguard it there will be a way to ensure that justice guides our action to build a united, free and prosperous Gambia that would guarantee peace to all at all times.