Tentatively okays Friday as Buhari, others postpone Gambia trip
President Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday politely told President Muhammadu Buhari –led ECOWAS mediation team not to visit him in Banjul on Wednesday.
He has however tentatively offered to receive the team on Friday barring any last minute change of heart.
The high level ECOWAS mediation mission led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has consequently pushed forward its visit to Banjul, the capital of Gambia, to Friday.
President Buhari’s office disclosed this on Tuesday.
In accepting to postpone the visit earlier planned to take place on Wednesday, President Buhari, who is mediating alongside John Mahama, the immediate past president of Ghana, said the delay notwithstanding, the mandate of the ECOWAS will be accomplished.
President Buhari reiterated the appeal on Monday by ECOWAS leaders that Gambian leaders do everything they can to douse tension in the West African country, which has led citizens to leave the country for fear of violence.
The Nigerian leader said ECOWAS is committed to the resolution of the crisis through inclusive dialogue with respect to the constitution and the will of the people of Gambia.
Bar and Bench Watch reports that the brewing crisis started on December 1, 2016, when elections were held in the Gambia during which opposition leader, Adama Barrow defeated the incumbent President Yahya Jammeh by 263,515 votes to 212,099.
The results reflected a 51,416 vote difference.
The following day even before the final results were announced, Jammeh who had ruled the country for twenty two years publicly conceded defeat, saying that Gambians and God wanted him to take the back seat.
Four days later, the electoral commission made two shocking announcements: First, that the total votes cast were actually 9.1 percent lower than those it had announced; Second, that there were errors in its counting as some of the votes counted in Barrow’s favour actually belonged to Jammeh.
Based on these, it released another set of results which saw Barrow with 227,708 votes – 35,807 votes lower that what had been earlier declared, and Jammeh with 212,099 or 3,612 more votes, narrowing the vote difference from 51,416 votes to 19,212 votes.
Four days after the reversed results were announced, Jammeh rejected the entire results demanding a rerun of the elections on the basis of what he claimed were “… serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process.”
He therefore decided to appeal the results at the Gambian Supreme Court in accordance with the country’s laws that allows a candidate dissatisfied with electoral results to appeal these within ten days.
But the world seems to have risen up against Jammeh; they do not want him to avail himself of the electoral rules in his country, but that he should simply give up power.
The United States said his decision to seek constitutional/legal redress is merely an attempt to hold on to power.
The African Union, which takes care of the interest of Africans, ruled that since President Jammeh had initially accepted the results, his subsequent rejection was “null and void”.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said Jammeh’s change of mind was an “outrageous act of disrespect of the will of the Gambian people”.
The United Nations Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas was more brutal: “For Mr. Jammeh, the end is here and under no circumstance can he continue to be president. By that time (January 18, 2017) his mandate will be up and he will be required to hand over to Mr. Barrow.”
Jammeh’s colleagues in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) initially took mediatory steps, but when they met in Abuja on December 17, the gloves were off.
They told him to “accept the result of the polls and refrain from any action likely to compromise the transition and peaceful transfer of power to the President-elect.”
In taking a firm stand against Jammeh, they resolved: “That all Head of States will attend the inauguration of the President-elect, Adama Barrow who must be sworn in on 19th January 2017 in conformity with the Gambian constitution.”
On December 23, the ECOWAS President, Marcel Alain de Souza, sent him an ultimatum: “The deadline is January 19 when the mandate of Jammeh ends…If he doesn’t go, we have a force that is already on alert, and this force will intervene to restore the will of the people.”
But in what appears a protest against the position of the world, Mr. Jammeh accused ECOWAS of putting forces on alert in case he refused to step down.
He vowed to stay in power despite losing the December1 election to rival Adama Barrow.
He also promised to defend Gambia against any outside aggression, in a New Year speech broadcast on state TV.
Bar and Bench Watch reports how President Muhammadu Buhari led other West African leaders to meet with Messrs. Jammeh and Barrow.
Apart from Mr. Buhari, the ECOWAS delegation also had Presidents Ernest Koroma, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and John Mahama of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana respectively.
The leaders appealed to Mr. Jammeh to leave office and also reportedly sought a ‘honourable exit’ for him that would ensure he is not tried for various human rights crimes he is alleged to have committed while in office.
Despite the visit, Mr. Jammeh remained defiant.
Marcel de Souza, the ECOWAS Commission president, said last week that the body had put standby forces on alert.
In his speech on New Year Day, Mr. Jammeh decried “the resolution of ECOWAS on the current situation to implement the results of December 1, 2016 presidential election by whatever means possible.”
He apparently acknowledged again that the poll did not go in his favour.
“It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution.