12 January 2017
The statement of the Outgoing President calling for dialogue is done at the right time. The Chief Justice had also added his voice to that of the National Assembly in calling for dialogued between stakeholders to settle differences before the expiration of the term of office of the incumbent.
It is, however, important to put the record straight. The statement of the incumbent has not distinguished technicality and fact and has not quoted what the Constitution says before drawing conclusions.
First and foremost, all polling and counting agents who were present at each polling station knew the results of the votes cast at each polling station and had the power to order the recounting of Ballot tokens before accepting any result from each of the polling stations. Parties had possibility of knowing the results before they were announced by the IEC. The fact is known to all the parties even if some have technical concerns.
The Office of President Elect Barrow, therefore, would like to convey to the general public, with sincerity and honesty, that he was declared a winner after the conduct of free and fair Presidential Election regardless of the technicalities that may have emerged in the declaration of the results.
The Courts could determine what led to the declaration of two results. However, it is evident that none of the results challenged the established fact that Adama Barrow won the 1st December 2016 Presidential Election.
The Second point that needs clarification is the following claim from the incumbent:
“As our Constitution provides, only the Supreme Court can review our challenge and only the Supreme Court can declare anyone President and so I ask each and every one of us to respect the Supreme Law of the Republic and await the Supreme Court Review and Ruling on the Election Results.”
This statement is at variance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Section 43 (2) of the Constitution states without any ambiguity or uncertainty that:
“The commission shall announce the results of all elections and referendum for which it is responsible.”
This is why the IEC announced the results of the 1st December Presidential Elections and declared Adama Barrow the winner.
It goes without saying that Section 63 (2) of the Constitution unequivocally states that:
“The person declared elected as President shall take the prescribed oaths and assume office on the day the term of office of the incumbent President expires.”
It is therefore clear that the person who is declared Elected as President by the IEC should be sworn in when the term of office of the Outgoing President expires.
The term of Office is clearly stipulated in the Constitution.
“The term of Office of an Elected President shall, subjected to Subsections 3 and 6 be for a term of five years and the person Elected President shall before assuming office take the prescribed oaths’’.
Outgoing President Jammeh has a Five year mandate. He cannot exceed his mandate. He is not declared Elected and is not mandated to succeed himself. This is the simple and unalloyed truth.
The Gambia has gone through peaceful Elections as provided for by Section 46 of the constitution which states “There shall be an Election for the Office of President in the three months before the expiration of the term of the incumbent President”.
Election has taken place according to law. The winner has been declared according to law and Election petition is filed by the loser. The winner should prepare for inauguration while the loser prepares for Court. This is the fact that no Gambian should deny or put under the carpet.
Dialogue is necessary to reach mutual understanding on the peaceful way forward. The Office of the President Elect is now waiting for the initiatives of the Secretary General who is appointed Mediator General of the Government.
The decision to release those arrested in connection with political matters and the commitment not to effect new arrests are steps in the right direction.
It is hoped that this would be extended to all those in detention without trial prior to the Election period.
It is also hoped that all media houses that are closed down would be allowed to operate and cover the divergent views that would enrich the debate on the way forward.
The open arms extended to brother and sister Presidents from ECOWAS, the OIC, AU and the UN for their kind words and support to The Gambia will also facilitate mediation efforts from all sides.
The Office of President Elect Barrow is confident that if all adhere to the verdict of the Gambian people and put the National interest before personal or party interest peace will prevail in the Gambia at all times. The supreme interest of the people should be the guide of all our actions in order to maintain and consolidate national unity ,peace and prosperity.