Three ballot drums are set in a polling station in Serrekunda, Gambia, Wednesday Nov. 30, 2016, on the eve of the presidential elections where Opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow will face longtime President Yahya Jammeh and third party candidate Mama Kandeh. Voters will choose their candidate by placing a clear glass marble inside the drum of their choice. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Gambians fear Supreme Court may rule for re-election

The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has filed a legal challenge in court petitioning the Supreme Court to nix the results of the elections in which he lost and call for new polls.

But Jammeh is faced with some challenges. There is no Supreme Court and he filed his petition outside the constitutionally required 10 days.

The bar association and the opposition coalition rejected his bid to constitute a Supreme Court for the purpose of hearing his petition.

“It would be against the principles of natural justice for the outgoing President to appoint Supreme Court Judges to hear a petition filed by him or on his behalf,” GBA President Sheriff Tambedou said.

But Jammeh is eccentric and does things as he pleases with the backing of loyalists in the army’s presidential guard units.

Most of the justices in The Gambia are Nigerians contracted by Jammeh. He appoints and fires them at will without following due process. Often, they do his bidding and were instrumental in helping Jammeh imprison political opponents, some for life for merely printing anti-government t-shirts.

It may be true Jammeh has lost power and that may make the judges uphold the constitution and the wishes of the people. International and local pressure on Jammeh is mounting and even if the Supreme Court calls for new elections, Jammeh will lose and the people may choose an uprising to yank him out instead of the polls.

When Jammeh conceded defeat, it was too good to true for Gambians, but they suppressed this fear and went out to celebrate. Jammeh took a political u-turn reminding many of the case of a man he supported: Laurant Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who challenged the outcome of the elections that he lost to Ouattara. Ivorian Constitutional Council – the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court – ruled that Gbagbo won the run-off with 51.45 percent of the votes, three percentage points higher than Ouattara’s 48.55 percent.

Gambians are not hiding this fear, although they remain hopeful that it is too late for Jammeh to constitute a Supreme Court full of foreign judges from Nigeria and that with the backing of the international community, President-elect Adama Barrow will be sworn it as President of The Gambia.

But if Jammeh goes ahead to form a Supreme Court, will the court rule for new polls? Jammeh must remember, however, that even in Gbagbo’s case, the same Constitutional Court reversed its ruling in favor of Ouattara after Gbagbo was captured. Jammeh should already be seeing that with the number of people that are jumping ship.

Gambia’s electoral chief Alieu Momar Njai insists Jammeh had lost and the results will not change. Ballot boxes remain at the commission’s office sealed for 30 days in case a recount is requested. Forces loyal to Jammeh sealed the commission’s office angering the UN who had instructed them to vacate. It remains unknown if electoral materials have been tampered with.

In the end, what is known is that Jammeh will be declared a rebel and his government will not be recognized by the international community. He will be sanctioned and military force could be used to oust him.

Comments are closed.