While ECOWAS mediation was on, Jammeh was filling petition to void election result

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The defeated Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) party of outgoing President Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday challenged election results with a petition asking the Supreme Court to annul results from the December 1st election.

The petition was file just as heavyweight quartet of West African leaders were holding talks with Mr Jammeh to persuade to accept the will of the people and leave after 22 years.

The delegation led by ECOWAS Chair and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf included Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s outgoing President John Mahama as well as the UN Africa envoy Mohamad Ibn Chambas.

They also met the President-elect Adama Barrow and the Coalition leaders, the Gambia’s electoral body (IEC) Chairman Alhaji Alieu Momar Njai, Mama Kandeh and the GDC Party, UN diplomats as well as foreign ambassadors in the country.

The petition seen by The Fatu Network signed by Hon. Bala Garba Jahumpa, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) General Secretary and Minister of State said the country’s independent electoral commission (IEC) had violated the law and added that opposition leader Adama Barrow was “not duly elected or returned as president and that the said election was void”.

“The petition prays that it be determined that the said Adama Barrow was not duly elected or returned as President and that the said election was void; that the said Yahya AJJ Jammeh was duly elected President by virtue of the actual votes and therefore, ought to have been returned as the duly elected President; that the election of the 1st December 2016 was invalid by reasons of (a) non-compliance with the Election Act, (b) that it was not conducted fairly or in good faith and (c) that the non compliance mentioned in this petition seriously affected the credibility of the results of the said presidential elections and necessarily render them invalid” the party urged the court to rule.

The APRC said it was not present when the IEC issued a recount on December 5th, claiming there were irregularities in the process and alleged voter intimidation.

Jammeh had surprised observers by initially conceding defeat in the poll but then reversed his stand, triggering an avalanche of international condemnation and a multitude of calls for him to cede power peacefully.

Earlier on Tuesday, police locked down the offices of the electoral commission, raising fresh fears Jammeh might not leave office without a fight.

Meanwhile, Gambian army chief Ousman Badjie seemed to reverse a previous declaration of support for Barrow and arrived at delegation preparation talks wearing a badge that featured Jammeh’s face on his uniform. He said he supports the Commander-in-Chief, President Yahya Jammeh in brief comments to journalists.

However the electoral commission chairman, Alieu Momar Njie, confirmed to The Fatu Show Programme on The Fatu Network Radio that when he went to work on Tuesday, the security did not allow him to enter the IEC headquarters. He said no reason was given, but the premises remained locked down and surrounded by soldiers.

Asked if there is no possibility of tampering with the results since army are in control of the office, Mr Njai said “even if they burn down the building, the results will not change” he said.

Jammeh’s party left it late to file a complaint contesting the election with the Supreme Court, as Tuesday was believed to be the last day constitutionally possible to do so. The legal body however has lain dormant since May 2015 as Jammeh himself sacked all the judges.

Earlier, The Gambia Bar Association has said there is “no legitimate legal mechanism available in The Gambia to hear and determine the election petition”, as Jammeh would have to stuff the court with his own appointees.

By Alhagie Jobe