Gambian court hears Pres. Jammeh’s election petition

# 19:59
21 December 2016

The hearing of a petition seeking to annul the results of Gambia’s recent presidential elections filed by the small nation’s strongman President Yahya Jammeh was heard in the court today, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.


Gambia's President Jammeh and his party have lost elections to a little known property developer, Adama Barrow, but Jammeh said the process was marred with irregularities and rejected the results in its “totality” week after he conceded.


The hearing of the case could not continue because the Independent Electoral Commission, the country's electoral authorities, was not served with the petition letter before.


The hearing will continue on Jan. 10.


The case was brought before the Supreme Court of the country by Chief Justice, Emmanuel Fagbele, a Nigerian national.


About a week ago, the Gambia Bar Association, a professional body of Gambian lawyers, asked President Jammeh not to challenge the results at the country's superior court because the court has no Justices since May 2015.


The Bar argued that the judgment will be fundamentally flawed if Jammeh appoints Supreme Court judges now and assign them to a case in which he has an interest.


However, the Chief Justice who is responsible for assigning cases to judges in Gambia and also President of the Supreme Court said they have appointed judges since July 2016, though they were not sworn-in.


Fagbele said the Judges that will sit over the case are from Nigeria and Sierra Leone but the Judiciary Service Commission of those countries have not yet released them.


The judgment is expected to be finished before the swearing-in of the President elect.


Two days ago, the Gambia Bar Association has written a letter demanding the resignation of the Chief Justice for alleged "misconduct" and "campaigning" for Jammeh's party, acts they say violated the official codes of conduct for the office of the Chief Justice.


Tense political standoff began in Gambia after Jammeh rejected the election results on Dec. 9 while ordering fresh votes, a call which was rejected by African Union, Economic Community of West African States and United Nations.


Few days ago, ECOWAS sent a mediation team in the small nation led by the regional bloc’s chair, Liberia’s President Johnson Sirleaf, but their efforts yielded little results.


And on Dec. 17 the regional bloc held a meeting in Abuja where they demanded that the president should step down but Jammeh said their stance was interference into the sovereign affairs of Gambia which is against a very important principle of ECOWAS.


“I made it very clear that I will not accept it and that is where I stand up to today… All I want is to go back to the Gambian people and this is where I stand today, tomorrow and a day after tomorrow for a billion years,” Jammeh said during a discussion with African Bar Association at the State House on Tuesday night.


However, ECOWAS said they will all attend president elect Barrow’s inauguration on Jan. 19, a cause that might change if the Supreme Court of the country annulled the results in Jammeh’s favour.