Sirleaf reacts angrily after Jammeh broadcast conversation on TV, says ECOWAS position hasn’t change

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Liberian President and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments has angrily reacted to Gambia’s outgoing President Yahya Jammeh’s move in broadcasting their telephone conversation on television.

She also made it clear that ECOWAS position has not change and stand by same position that President Jammeh must respect the Constitution of The Gambia, hand over power because he lost the elections of December 1st.

On Sunday, Mr Jammeh phoned President Sirleaf to beg for ECOWAS through her, to facilitate the availability of Supreme Court judges to look into his election petition. Mr Jammeh aired the conversation on State TV, GRTS, without the permission of President Sirleaf.

Speaking to BBC Focus on Africa, President Sirleaf in an angry tone rubbished the action of Mr Jammeh for recording their conversation without any permission. She said Mr Jammeh neither told her that he was recording her nor will air it on television.

“On Sunday, January 15th, Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh telephoned me to make an appeal to the ECOWAS Authority to make judges available as as means to addressing the crisis.  This was really nothing new as he had said the same thing in meetings with the mediating team twice in Banjul. Unfortunately, being the person that he is, he recorded and televised the conversation without advising me of his intent to do so. He absolutely did not tell me he was recording me. I was in a vehicle when I received his call. It was telephone conversation between him and me. Like I say, unfortunately he did not tell me his intention or tell me after that he has done so” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to BBC Africa Services.

She then made it clear that there is no change in ECOWAS position and the Gambian Constitution mus be respected. She said that message has since been conveyed by the mediators during their visits to Banjul.

“Let me make it very, very clear, there is no change in Ecowas’s position. The Constitution of The Gambia must be respected. That has been conveyed by our mediator, Nigerian President Muhammadou Buhari and the mediating team twice in Banjul. There is no change in ECOWAS position. That’s it” she insisted.

According to President Sirleaf, at the time of the phone call, she taught that Mr Jammeh was finding a way out of this and that he was going to work with the mediating team to ensure peaceful transfer of power but it is in the contrary.

“At the time he called me, I was thinking that he was going to find a way out of this, that he was going to to be able to work with the team but clearly, clearly, it was a lose on his battle. So the only thing I can say once again is that ECOWAS position has not change. I don’t anticipate any court ruling or what soever. All I know is that President Jammeh must respect the Constitution. There was an election and that election was won by the head of the opposition team and he needs to respect that. That is the position of ECOWAS” President Sirleaf insisted.

Meanwhile, the preparation by Gambians to inaugurate President-elect Barrow on January 19th, with international backing despite Jammeh’s defiance gives him sleepless nights prompting his phone called on President Sirleaf.

Mr Jammeh earlier attempted to nullify the results and file a petition to the Supreme Court contesting the results of the December polls that he lost to Adama Barrow. Earlier, the country’s Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle ruled that the election petition could not be heard until May as there are no sufficient judges to constitute the Supreme Court which has not been functional for the past two years.

Today, the Chief Justice has again decided to stay away from the interlocutory injunction Mr Jammeh has filed asking the Court to stop President-elect Adama Barrow from been sworn in.