Pan African Lawyers Union disassociates itself from African Bar Associations’ actions on Gambia

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The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) has issued a strong statement vehemently disassociating itself from the statements and actions taken by the African Bar Association (AfBA) on the current legal and political nightmares in The Gambia.

The African Bar Association on Tuesday without consent from its affiliate, The Gambia Bar Association, held a meeting with outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and assured him of their support particulary in instituting the vacant Supreme Court in The Gambia to hear his petition challenging the election results.

You may recall that The Gambia went to the polls on December 1st in which incumbent President Yahya Jammeh was defeated by opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow. Mr Jammeh conceded defeated and after a week, made a surprising U-turn by rejecting the results and declaring the results null and void, thereby violating the constitutions. He further announced that he was filing a petition to the court which has been vacant since May 2015 and has not been functioning.

In a letter addressed to the Gambia Bar Association disassociating itself from the actions of the Africa Bar Association, Donald Deya, Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) said they are in solidarity with The Gambia Bar Association at this sensitive time and support the positions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) with regard to The Gambia.

Below is the full text of the statement;
Re: Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) dissociates itself from the statements and actions taken by the African Bar Association (AfBA)

I have been instructed by the President and the Executive Committee (Board) of PALU to write to you to continue to express our solidarity with you at this sensitive time in your country, and also to dissociate ourselves from and condemn the Statements and actions apparently undertaken by the African Bar Association (AfBA). We stand by our own Statement on the situation in The Gambia, which we issued on 12th December 2016. We also support the positions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) with regard to the Gambia.

We look forward to full implementation of the Decisions of the ECOWAS Summit held in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria this past Saturday, 17th December 2016. The AfBA position flies in the face of, and contradicts, the unanimous position of ECOWAS, AU and UN, and indeed of PALU. It flies in the face of, and contradicts, international law. It is, simply put, unlawful.

We highlight that we, as PALU, have nothing to do with AfBA. We consider AfBA to be a fraudulent organisation that does not represent anyone other than its few individual promoters. It has no known membership on the African continent. It does not speak for African lawyers or lawyers’ associations (Bar Associations and Law Societies). It has no known constituency. If it considered the Gambian Bar Association (GBA) to be its member association, there is no way it would have ‘parachuted’ directly into the State House of The Gambia, to meet the outgoing President of The Gambia, without consulting its member!

We advise that the GBA treat that action with the contempt it deserves, but that you go ahead and inform the Gambian citizenry and the international community that you neither recognise AfBA nor does it represent the African legal profession. The PALU Board has directed me to do the same, and we will shortly put out a Statement in this regard.

Meanwhile, may I just recall our email to you of 13th November 2015 (attached herein for ease of reference) when we addressed this issue of AfBA.

Donald Deya
Chief Executive Officer, Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU)

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