Gambia: President Elect Barrow Reacts To Jammeh’s New Year Message

STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT ELECT
1st January 2017
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.

The End

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YAHYA JAMMEH’S NEW YEAR STATEMENT

Fellow gambians and friends of the islamic republic of the gambia. We thank allah for his blessings and of life to allow us to witness yet the dawn of another year in the gregoriancalendar.
I take this opportunity to wish all gambians, non-gambians resident in the gambia and all friends of the gambia the world over, a merry christmas, a happy new year and a more prosperous 2017 for the benefit of all humankind. It has become a tradition that when we entre a new year, we as god fearing people, renew our faith in allah, our submission to his will and our pledge to do good and avoid satanic temptations to do evil. Fellow gambians, i believe it is also an occasion to strengthen our commitment to the letter and spirit of the gambia national anthem, particularly the sacrosanct of justice as the guide of our actions towards the common good and the cementing of unity amongst our diverse people. Fellow gambians, it is the pursuit of justice as provided for in the constitution of the gambia that serves as the basis of my protest and rejection of the december 1st presidential election, after my initial conceding of defeat and offer to guide and counsel adama barrow in the execution of his duties. Given that all previous elections since i became president of the gambia were conducted with the undoubted competence and impartiality of the independent electoral commission (IEC), i conceded defeat with the believe that the results announced by the IEC on december 2nd 2016 were accurate and genuine. However, when on monday  December 5th 2016, the chairman of the IEC invited all political parties to the headquarters of the commission to inform them of its counting errors and its rectification of the figures without specifying the number of votes tranposed and added to adama barrow nationwide, my suspicion of the impartiality and honesty of the current iec and the falsification of the results was aroused. The findings of further investigations unearthed abnormalities that vindicated this suspicion. Given these unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies in the elections, what we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the gambian people to elect who they want to be their president in free and fair elections to be organised by a fresh, patriotic, allah fearing, honest independent electoral commission just like it was under the leadership of mr. Carayol. Thus, fellow gambians, the principle moral behind my nullification of the result is that much as i will not cheat or allow anyone to cheat on my behalf, so will i not tolerate anyone to cheat me. Yet, fellow gambians, in spite of the fact that cheating is condemned by both islam and christianity, and that cheating in elections is prohibited by law and petition against flawed elections results provided for in our constitution, some interest groups and individuals have championed the campaign for my step down.
The campaign dismisses the legitimacy of my change of position after my initial concession of defeat. Yet, my fellow gambians, change for the better is commonplace in all decision-making processes in pursuit of good governance. Development programs are modified to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and beneficiary participation in program implementation. Legislations are amended in response to emergent issues, and to buttress the efficacy of law enforcement. Court verdicts can also be subjected to appeals to ensure that justice prevails.
In the same vein, election results are petitioned to verify that the established rules and procedures have been impartially applied and observed, and that results accurately represent the will of the people and not results that have been cooked by the iec in favor of a candidate.
This provision of post electoral petition is ensured in the constitution of the gambia. Thus fellow gambians, in filing a petition in the supreme court, i am merely acting in accordance with the oath i took to defend the constitution of the gambia as your president and to exercise my right of appeal as a candidate during the presidential elections of 2016. Nevertheless, fellow gambians, i have noticed that there are appeals in some quarters for me to step down. This tantamounts to disregarding this constitutional provision that should govern the resolution of the current impasse. Most if not all reasons advanced for the appeals for me to re-embrace my initial position are based on fears of a military confrontation that leads to violence and concern for an outbreak of war in this peaceful country of ours. A military confrontation with whom? Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression and there will be no compromise on this. My government will, inshaa allah, never opt for such confrontation unless when we are compelled to defend our sovereignty, independence and dignity. Defending our sovereignity and total independence is a sacred duty for all patriotic gambians, more so the gambia armed forces. What is clearly incontrovertible is that the decision of ecowas on the current situation to implement the results of the december 1st 2016 election by whatever means possible is totally illegal as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ecowas treaty. It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable. This blatant impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ecowas is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate. This partisanship of ecowas has also disqualified it to provide mediation services as the genuine mediator has to be neutral and impartial to win the trust and confidence of the parties to a conflict. Thus we will not enter into negotiations brokered by ecowas if it does not recognise that the provisions of the gambian constitution provides the basic legal principles to guide the sorting out of the details of this stalemate in order to arrive at a peaceful resolution legally binding on both of the gambian parties. Without this quest for justice within the context of the constitution of the gambia and the elimination of the treat of use of force in the position of ecowas, the impasse will continue with the risk of escalating into a military confrontation. We have in principle vehemently condemned violence, but we shall never condone injustice. However, i wish to remind you, fellow gambians that my government has an indisputable track record of peace. We came to power through a bloodless revolution and ensured the sustenance of peace throughout the last 22 years. We exported this culture of peace to troubled spots in the sub-region through successful mediation efforts that resolved such conflicts. The gambia national army has also established itself as a force of effective participants in peacekeeping in other parts of the world. Thus, fellow gambians, on the basis of deliberate policy, my government developed an atmosphere of peace and stability in our country and we remain strongly committed to guard the sustenance of this culture of peace that is the envy of many nations and we will defend it to the last person. In conclusion, fellow gambians, as we welcome the new year 2017, i wish you all the best and the almighty allah’s blessings to cleanse our hearts and minds of evil intentions and join us together for our common good. May allah shower all of us with the divine virtues of faith, tawheed and iman in our hearts and minds to submit ourselves completely to him alone and worship him alone. If all of us endeavour, through prayers and perseverance in good deeds, to cultivate and live by these godly moral standards, our socio-economic development achievements as a nation will be beyond imagination, inshaa allah. Long live the islamic republic of the gambia. The almighty allah is the greatest. I thank you all for your attention.

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