On Tuesday, four West African heads of state tried to mediate in Banjul to convince Jammeh to definitively acknowledge his defeat in the presidential election and to give up power.
This is a difficult mission for the heads of state of West Africa. As outgoing President of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, wants to cancel his lost election, several of his counterparts on the continent are still trying to convince him to give up power but without great results at the moment.
After a day of talks on Tuesday (December 13th), Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation, acknowledged that nothing had been decided.
After the turnabout of Yahya Jammeh who set up a deleterious climate in the country, the West African leaders sent to Banjul to try to convince Yahya Jammeh to recognize definitely his defeat in the presidential election and to give up power have not yet reached an agreement to that effect, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Tuesday.
“We did not come for an agreement, we come to help the Gambians to organize the transition. It is not something that can be accomplished in one day, it has to be worked on, “Sirleaf, current chairwoman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Head of the delegation, told reporters.
West African leaders, including Nigerian Muhammadu Buhari, Ghanaian John Dramani Mahama and Sierra Leonean Ernest Bai Koroma, met Yahya Jammeh who, according to Sirleaf, expressed “some concerns” to them, but they Have not been specified.
The President of Liberia stated that the delegation she led met with all the concerned parties. She will now report to the other ECOWAS Heads of State at their next meeting next Saturday in Abuja, Nigeria.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assured she was not disappointed “because she thinks the approach will work. The President of ECOWAS underlined that all the interlocutors of the delegation had committed themselves to peace and stability in the Gambia.
At the same time, Jammeh’s party, the Patriotic Alliance for Reorientation and Construction (APRC), appealed Tuesday to the Supreme Court to seek the annulment of the results of 1st December election. Results that give opponent Adama Barrow winner of the presidential with more than 40% of the vote.
The APRC believes that the Independent Electoral Commission “did not properly compile the results,” and said that in one part of the country, a significant number of its supporters “were intimidated and prevented from voting”.
Yahya Jammeh had accepted the results of December 1, 2016 presidential election. Moreover, he congratulated President-elect Adama Barrow before making an about-turn a week later. Last Tuesday the party of Yahya Jammeh officially appealed the Supreme Court of the Gambia to ask the cancellation of the results of the election. According to documents obtained by AFP, the ruling party claims, in support of its request for cancellation of the results granting the victory to Adama Barrow by some 19,000 votes of difference, irregularities in the accounting by IEC and “intimidation” towards its voters in a region.
Previously, the opposition had expressed fears that this recourse would be a mean for Yahya Jammeh to remain in place beyond the end of his mandate, scheduled for January. “He lost the election, we do not want to waste time,” Barrow told AFP on Monday.
“A very dangerous moment”
Moreover, since the Supreme Court is no longer complete, appointing new judges would inevitably lead to additional delays, according to the opposition, which in any case denies this power to the incumbent president.
In the absence of judges to sit on the Supreme Court since May 2015, “there is no legal mechanism in the Gambia to rule on the electoral appeal of the outgoing president,” said the LAWYERS’ Association, calling Yahya Jammeh on Monday to “Surrender power immediately”.
On monday the police closed the buildings of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) before the arrival of ECOWAS delegation.
The chief of the army, General Ousman Badjie, of whom Adama Barrow last week asserted his support as president-elect, arrived at the talks on his uniform with a badge of the head of the outgoing State, asserting that it supported “the commander-in-chief, President Yahya Jammeh”.
US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said Monday that it was a “very dangerous moment” for this small country of less than two million inhabitants, due in particular to the support that outgoing president still enjoyed in the army.
In case of failure of this “preventive diplomacy”, ECOWAS “will consider more draconian decisions”, declared the president of the Commission of the ECOWAS, Marcel Alain de Souza, to RFI, without rejecting the military option.
The UN representative in West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said on Wednesday that the dictator could be “severely punished” if he clung to his presidential chair after January 19th. A military intervention is even “a possible solution,” said the president of the Commission of the ECOWAS, in an interview with RFI.
“The opposition won the election, which was fair,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative in the region. Jammeh’s five-year term expires on January 19, said Ibn Chambas, adding that “he will have to be ready to cede power” on that date. “We hope that during this period all his actions will be in conformity with the Constitution,” said the UN official. With regard to Mr. Jammeh’s appeal to the Court, Mr. Ibn Chambas asserted that the two questions were unrelated.
“This legal procedure has nothing to do with the end of his mandate,” he said.
But the total diplomatic isolation of the Gambian dictator should not worry him much. For years, he even made an election argument. So, what effects will the threats of his opponents, inside and outside the country produce?
Mamadou Dian Donghol Diallo.