Gambian president Yahya Jammeh on Sunday placed a call to Liberian president and chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to help facilitate the release of judges to sit on the election petition filed by his party.
The four-minute video that showed Jammeh appealing to Sirleaf to help Gambians to use the courts to peacefully resolve the political impasse arising from the December 1 polls.
Transcript of Jammeh’s call to Sirleaf
Sirleaf: Yeah, you wanted to talk to me again.
Jammeh: With regards to our last meeting when you came here, I want to request your assistance as the chairperson of the ECOWAS authority of Heads of State. To help us resolve this impasse peacefully through the courts.
I hereby request you for ECOWAS to facilitate the release of the judges so that they can come and help us resolve constitutionally (through the constitution of the Gambia). As I said, the only peaceful resolution of this impasse is through the courts.
Everything that we are doing is based on the constitution of the Republic of the Gambia and an application has also been filed at the Supreme Court of the Gambia for an injunction to restrain Adama Barrow from being sworn-in, as well as restrain the Chief Justice and any other party from swearing-in Adama Barrow into office until this application is decided either way or the status quo must remain.
That is until such a time that the Supreme Court has made a decision on this, the status quo cannot change. But under the constitution of the Gambia, the so-called 19 of January is not cast in stone as we have an injunction in the court and we have a problem with our election.
All parties should await the outcome of the Supreme Court which will be the only legal entity to thrash out this case, once and for all. I want to assure you that whatever we want to do will be based on the constitution of the Gambia.
And as we discussed that all must pass through the constitution of the Gambia which is the supreme authority. So I once again renew my request for you as the chair to request for the ECOWAS to facilitate the coming of the judges so that they can hear this case as soon as possible.
Sirleaf: Okay Mr President, so like I told you when we talk before, I am going to work on this right away. I am going to consult with all the mediating teams and tell them what you have said. Like I told you before, it will be a good idea if you just put out a statement.
Sirleaf: As we agreed before, just a short statement coming from you, that will be very important to the mediation team, coming from you making a request to the ECOWAS body that you only want peace and you are going to follow the constitution.
There is an infraction, the will please find and get the judges for you and a court decision must be the way to go. A small statement like that will make everybody comfortable. Then we can move on and encourage Nigeria and other people to get the justices to come there.
Jammeh: I promise you I’m going to do it today, and I am going to do it today my sister.
Jammeh: You have my word for it.
Sirleaf: Thank you so much
Jammeh: Thank you so much, all the best
Sirleaf: Thank you, thank you for helping us to all find peace, Gambia needs peace, ECOWAS wants peace.
Jammeh: Insha Allah, I guarantee you that by the grace of Allah we will work for a peaceful resolution.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared Adama Barrow – an opposition coalition candidate as winner of the polls. Barrow is currently in Senegal and will fly in on Thursday january 19 to be sworn-in as president.
Jammeh has applied for an injunction to be placed on the swearing in. An earlier court case on the validity of the polls could not be heard because of lack of judges.
Gambia often imports judges from fellow West African countries especially from Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Its current Chief Justice is a Nigerian, Emmanuel Fagbenle.