AFRICAN CENTRE FOR DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES

The Governing Council of the  African Centre  for  Democracy and Human Rights Studies  (ACDHRS} and the  Steering Committee of the  Forum  of the   Participation  of   NGOs  in  the   Ordinary  Session   of   the   African Commission on  Human   and  Peoples’  Rights  hereby wish  to  add  their voice  to the  numerous calls by its  Partners  from diverse quarters being made  calling  on the  outgoing President of the  Republic  of The Gambia to respect the will of the Gambian people.

On Friday,  2 December, 2016  the  much  awaited election  results  were released  by the  Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of The Gambia, showing the  defeat  of the  incumbent President Jammeh by the Coalition opposition candidate, Adama Barrow.

To the awe, shock and pride of the Gambian people, its partners and well-wishers,    President  Jammeh  conceded  and  proceeded  to   call   the President elect  which  was televised for all the  nation to see. The cordial exchange between the two sons of the soil was indeed a move worthy of emulation.

It is, therefore, with grave concern that   on Friday, 9 December, 2016 outgoing President   Jammeh, yet again made another unexpected announcement on national television to annul the said results because of unacceptable irregularities’ in the vote that cost him power and demanded a re-run of the polls, despite having said that ‘it was the most transparent election the world has ever seen.’

He therefore informed the nation of his intention to petition this matter legally before the Courts.  Apart  from   throwing the  nation   back into uncertainty and much  feared  insecurity,  this  later  move  is against the grain  and contravenes  the  letter  and  spirit  of  the  Constitution, not  to ‘ mention the  human  rights  instruments to  which  The Gambia  is a state party.          It is  the  general  opinion of  citizens;  and  the  international community that such a Declaration which can best be described  as the rape  of  democracy  and  a serious  violation of  the  basic principles  of democracy which goes against the will of the people.

Meanwhile, latest reports that reached us on 13 December, 2016 is that the IEC Chairman and staff have been evicted from their offices, which is now under the guard of Military officials.

While it is President Jammeh’s absolute  right  to  petition the  Supreme Court  under  normal  circumstances, the  Court, at  the  moment has no quorum for  such hearings. Any attempts to re-constitute it for the sole objective to serve the outgoing President would be seeking to jeopardize the will of people and is tantamount to a Coup d’état.

As promoters and defenders of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Africa, we believe in peace and stability and we therefore reject any violation of the Gambian Constitution by the Outgoing President.

We hereby call on the outgoing President Jammeh to:

  • Respect the election result and the will of the Gambia people, and endeavour to  work  towards  stepping  down  from  power,  with no prolongation of his rule beyond January 2017;
  • Maintain  the inviolability of the electoral process by sticking to his original undertaking  to hand over power as peacefully as he had indicated without any pre-condition to the President elect, Adama Barrow;
  • Respect the Constitution  of The Gambia as well as all the regional and international treaties  on human rights, democracy, elections and governance to which  The Gambia is a state  party, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;
  • ensure  that  any  act  of  violence  by  security  forces  or  attacks against journalists and human rights defenders in the country are averted during this period as he is still accountable until he hands over power.

Furthermore, we urge all Gambians, at home and abroad to maintain the peace and love for which land and the people are renowned.

We commend the firm stand and efforts of the African Union, the AU Peace and Security. Council, The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the ECOWAS Heads of State particularly from Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana (outgoing) as well as the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations who flew into Banjul on 13 December, 2016 to meet with incumbent Yahya Jammeh in a bid to advise him to step down.

Finally, in the interest of peace and stability, we urge various partners and stakeholders to continue to dialogue in order to ensure a peaceful transition in consonance with the Constitution and the will of the people.

Banjul, 13th December, 2016