By Alhagie Jobe
The Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) has rubbish any attempt by Gambia’s outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to single-handedly constitute a court to hear his own electoral petition saying it is also not the role of any candidate to officially declare or cancel election results and/ or constitute the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
PALU is the umbrella association of African lawyers and Law Societies. It brings together the continent’s five regional and fifty-four national Lawyers’ Associations, as well as individual lawyer-members.
In a statement issued on Monday, PALU said they have held extensive consultations with the legal profession and civil society in The Gambia and in Western Africa, and established that the Supreme Court of the Gambia is currently not constituted and further that its recent conduct has lost its credibility and legitimacy in the country and in the region and in any case, the incumbent cannot now single-handedly constitute a Court to hear his own electoral petition.
“We strongly condemn the belated attempt by the outgoing President, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, purporting to cancel the election results and giving indications that he would challenge the results in the Supreme Court and/ or reconstitute the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for purposes of a fresh Presidential election. We highlight that it is not the role of any candidate to officially declare or cancel election results and/ or constitute the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)” it stated.
PALU further reaffirmed its support to the statements already issued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) which pointed out that outgoing President Yahya Jammeh’s actions are a violation of the Constitution and laws of The Republic of the Gambia, amounting to treason and also to the crime of unconstitutional change of government as defined by the ECOWAS Protocol on Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
The Union saluted the efforts of a number of Heads of States and senior officials of West African States to undertake high-level diplomacy to assist the people of The Gambia to find a sustainable solution, in the shortest time possible, to the crisis that outgoing President Yahya Jammeh has plunged the country. The PALU reiterateD that, should these efforts not bear results, the AU is obliged to activate the provisions of its laws, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the Peace and Security Protocol of the African Union.
“PALU will continue to monitor the situation in The Gambia, and will shortly organize its own high-level delegation into the country, which will, among other things, examine the state of the Judiciary, and offer practical support to our member, The Gambia Bar Association. We will also continue working with ECOWAS and the AU, and ensuring they fully undertake their obligations to the people of The Republic of The Gambia and West Africa” it stated.
The Pan African Lawyers’ Union (PALU) congratulated the people of The Republic of The Gambia for holding free, fair, credible and orderly elections on 1st December 2016, and for maintaining peace, law and order throughout the election period to date. They also applaud the conduct of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of The Gambia, in the electoral process, including promptly announcing the results of the elections on 2nd December 2016, as well as courageously announcing and correcting errors that may have occurred during the process. They also acknowledged the timely concession of the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh, which was broadcast live on television and watched by the entire international community.