By Kebba Jeffang
President-elect Adama Barrow who along with his coalition team received in audience the delegation from the Africa Bar Association and tasked them to deliver as the ball is in their court after gathering from them useful and reliable information.
He made these remarks on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at Kairaba Beach Hotel. The spokesperson of the alliance Halifa Sallah, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and Amie Bojang Sissoho graced the occassuion.
Speaking first, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, President of Africa Bar Association, said their association was formed in 1961 and is working on the continent to stabilize peace which brought them in the Gambia. He said it is a joy for them to hear that there was peaceful election in the country and the incumbent had conceded but it was more joyous when he congratulated the president-elect. However, he said now that there is a snag they will not allow foreign intervention to disrupt the peace. He said as lawyers, they have the expertise, human resources and goodwill to solve Gambia’s problem. He said it is their will to visit the countries in crisis and hear from the stakeholders as they did in Burundi.
“The African Bar Association will not gather opinions until we are in the Gambia to talk to the people. I hear people saying what the position of the African Bar is but with due respect Your Excellency we do not have opinion until we have spoken to all the parties in the Gambia. I want to thank you and your team for maintaining peace and it was the same thing I told President Yahya Jammeh. We are very glad to have peace here and no gunshots. We will help in every way we can within our professional powers to solve this issue. There are two ways of resolving conflicts which are through the law courts or as African brothers.”
He said they are here to continue the intervention made by the ECOWAS leaders as election has been conducted and the results have been cleared. He said the president has spoken to them about two conflicting reports but that it is lawful to solve this problem through courts. He said it is very important that they do not neglect the decision made by the Gambian people. He congratulated President Elect Barrow and advised him to keep his mind open. He said part of the issues they discussed with the President Jammeh is to eschew inflammatory remarks. “We are going to try to see how yourself (President Elect Barrow) and President Jammeh can narrow the differences and move the country forward because foreign intervention in Africa have never yielded positive results.
Ibrahim Eddy Mark said if the two present leaders agree on everything that will be the end of the entire crisis but that the will of the people must be respected with calls of sacrifice. He said they are mediators that are in the country for everybody and they are not judgmental. According to him, all they are looking for is a peaceful resolution.
Halifa Sallah, spokesperson of the alliance government said since the mission of the African lawyers is a fact finding one, president-elect Adama Barrow asked him to give facts as they know them. He said the mission will have no problem on their part because they are committed in maintaining peace in the country. He said throughout the campaign they have been telling the electorate about their mission as coalition to unify the nation, ethno-linguistic, religion, gender and everybody so that the country can have a new start and not insult or fight.
“So we went up to the declaration of the result and the incumbent called the person who was declared winner and said on no uncertain terms that it is the verdict of the people and God. He said his doors are open, let him create an agenda and there will be cooperation to facilitate a smooth transfer of power. Everybody jubilated and the unexpected then happened. Gambia has made history, both the incumbent and the electorate. He accepted that he was going to be the outgoing president and the president-elect will become the incoming president and they have an agenda of what to tidy up such as release of prisoners, those in detention without trial so that it will be a good will gesture towards the inauguration”.
He said later, they saw a televised declaration that the outgoing president said he rejected the election and annulled it and there will be fresh election under a new electoral body. He said they believe that the Independent Electoral Commission is the only body that has the authority empowered by the Constitution to declare the result and to declare winner and that has happened.
“That’s the language of the Constitution and if anybody wants to reject the result fine you can form an opinion but if you want to challenge it you should go to court and you have ten days to do that at the Supreme Court. That was not the way he took; the route he took was to reject, annul and declare that there will be fresh election under another electoral commission. This was the route he took and that is the source of the crisis. When that declaration was made and he threatened that he will not tolerate any demonstration, the coalition met and reviewed the words, letter and spirit and we saw that the spirit was no longer calling for a peaceful transfer of power; it is calling for confrontation and the coalition is not interested in the confrontation, no demonstration will take place because the Constitution will prevail” said Sallah.
Sallah however, emphasized that they are aware of the fact that the outgoing president term will end in January 2017 and that is why the president-elect will assume office on the day his term expires. He said the president-elect has issued a statement to inform his supporters about this Constitutional order they should know that soldiers and institutions are under his control. He said the president-elect has been so much disciplined in his words and expressions and nobody could talk to them about inflammatory remarks.
He said it is hearsay to them that the APRC has filed a petition in the court because the president-elect wasn’t served and they don’t want to talk about that issue as they are not a party to it and they don’t know anything about it. “We have zero knowledge about it.” However, he said legal process doesn’t negate Constitutional right meaning they will be inaugurated when the day is due as they are ready despite they filed their case.
Halifa Sallah concluded “we believe it is an invention to talk about prosecuting the incumbent. We have no control over the language of the cyber space and online media control as they insult anybody. Some will be your supporters while others will be your opponents, that is the way of the world today. But people must be fair in their comments. And I hope the incumbent is fair in the sense that he will not say anything that the president-elect has said, heard him saying or the spokesperson said something that threatened him.
Adama Barrow, president-elect thanked the delegates for making the matter a concern. He said their position is clear as highlighted by the spokesperson. This time the election was different as it was counting on the spot in which all parties have their agents.
“We all knew the results as early as 3am on Friday 2nd December and we knew the final results that they lost even before the announcement of the IEC. As a sitting president, before calling the opponent to offer congratulations, he did all his consultations. He knew exactly what he was doing and that said it all. In his message also it was very clear because he said our system is the best in the whole world and nobody can rig it. He said our margin is 18,000 and that was the result and it has been signed by all parties. We were very surprised to hear him say he has annulled the results. We made it very clear to him that he doesn’t have the authority to annul the election results in our statement. As a fact finding mission, now that you have got the facts, the ball is in your court,” Barrow concluded.