Gambia: Barrow’s Office responds to Jammeh’s televised message

Halifa Sallah

President-elect Adama Barrow while reacting to the televised message of the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh on the 10th January said the incumbent has not distinguished technicality and fact when addressing the nation.

By Kebba Jeffang

Barrow whose statement was read at the press conference by his Spokesperson Halifa Sallah added the statement failed to quote what the Constitution says before drawing conclusions.

However, they welcomed his call for dialogue as something being done at the right time.

He said both the Chief Justice and the national assembly also added their voices in calling for dialogue between the 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,” he said.

He assured the public that the incoming president will be inaugurated 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,” Sallah said.

He said the 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 everyone 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.””

He said this is why the IEC announced the results of the 1st December Presidential Elections and declared Adama Barrow the winner.

Sallah went further to quote Section 63 (2) of the Constitution which, he said, 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.”

He added “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,” he said in a statement.

He again quoted this provision: “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’’.

The spokesperson of the alliance government noted that the outgoing President Jammeh has a five year mandate and he cannot exceed his mandate. He said Jammeh is not declared Elected and is not mandated to succeed himself, adding that “this is the simple and unalloyed truth.”

Mr. Sallah said Section 46 of the constitution 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”.

However, he said dialogue is necessary to reach mutual understanding on the peaceful way forward adding that the office of the president-elect is now waiting for the initiatives of the Secretary General of the incumbent’s government who is appointed Mediator General of the his government. This mediator general, according to Sallah, is not expected to be independent from the government but described his existence important citing that “he is here to open up the channel of negotiation between the two parties as well as the civil society organizations. He will be hearing from us so that he can take our issues to the incumbent in order for them to review and reconcile the two sides briefs.

“The decision to release those arrested in connection with political matters and the commitments 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,” said the Coalition.