By Alhagie Jobe: Disgraced outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has accused the West African sub-regional bloc ECOWAS of ‘declaring war’ against his government by threatening to deploy a stand by force to enforce the December 1st election results if he fails to hand over power on January 18th.
According to Jammeh, this would only “escalate into a military confrontation” and further indication of ECOWAS violating the country’s sovereignty and “blatant and one-sided.”
In his New Year Message 2017 on Saturday, Mr Jammeh said the ECOWAS summit decision of December 17th, 2016 in Abuja was “totally illegal” as it violated the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states.
West African leaders with support from UN, warned last month at a Summit in Abuja, Nigeria, that the 15-member ECOWAS would “take all necessary action to enforce the results” of the December 1 poll if Mr Jammeh fail to respect the will of the people. The summit followed a high level quartet of African leaders’ mediation mission to Banjul led by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Mr Jammeh who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years initially conceded election defeat to opposition coalition leader Adama Barrow before reversing his position and refusing to accept the vote a week later. He now file a petition at the Supreme Court challenging the results entirely blaming the electoral body, IEC, for what he called “unacceptable errors and irregularities’ ” and called for a new election.
The defiant Yahya Jammeh in his address, insisted that ECOWAS Resolution to implement the poll results of December 1st by all means possible is a declaration of war against his government.
“It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable. Let me make very clear that we are ready to defend the country against any aggression and there will be no compromise on this” Outgoing President Jammeh said.
He continued: “Given the unjustifiable and unprecedented anomalies… what we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their president in free and fair elections” Jammeh said.
Meanwhile, Gambia’s Supreme Court last month mentioned the petition case and but without enough sitting judges had to adjourned it until January 10th, 2017, while the Nigerian-hired Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle scout for judges.
The court action and stance by the Chief Justice prompted swift condemnation from the Gambia Bar Association and other legal bodies saying the court has not be constituted for the past year and the outgoing president has no constitutional right to appoint judges to hear this case.
The 51-year-old tyrant who remains defiant has stoked international concerns about the future of the country, with the UN joining African leaders in calling for him to allow Barrow to take the oath of office as scheduled on January 19th without which a draconian action will be taken against him.