The president of Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission, Alieu Momarr Mjiar, announces presidential election results in Banjul, Gambia, December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

IEC Chief questions the constitution of a Supreme Court

It is not ethically right for a supreme court that has been dormant for 20 months to be reactivated simply to preside over the past election results, says Alieu Momar Njie, Gambia’s electoral chief.

Njie’s Independent Electoral Commission presided over a one of a kind election and introduced an instant counting scheme to avoid stealing of votes, which saw the country’s longtime ruler President Yahya Jammeh defeated.

Gambia has a unique electoral system. Voters drop a marble into a barrel filled with sawdust at the bottom. A bell, similar to that of a bicycle’s rings when the marble is dropped. President Yahya Jammeh calls the system “most transparent, rig-proof and fraud-proof.” But Jammeh after losing accuses the commission of “rigging the polls” and “fraudulently making the opposition win.”

Jammeh’s APRC party has filed a petition in the Supreme Court claiming irregularities and incompetence on the path of the electoral commission. They want fresh polls to be held under a new electoral commission.

The Gambia Bar Association says there has been no Supreme Court since last year. President Yahya Jammeh has ignored repeated calls to appoint justices to the court. The bar’s president, Sheriff Tambadou said “it will be against natural justice” for Mr. Jammeh to constitute a Supreme Court just to hear his petition under such circumstances.

IEC Chief now says the constitution of the Supreme Court is questionable and that defeated President Jammeh cannot stop the swearing in of President-elect Adama Barrow.

“You don’t constitute a court to address your own case. But what everybody should know and I think Mr. Jammeh himself knows this, is that come January 19th, Adama Barrow is going to be sworn-in no matter what the court decides,” said Mr. Njie.

Gambian soldiers loyal to President Jammeh ended the occupation of the Election House last week after warnings from the U.S. and the United Nations.

Gambian authorities say there was an “imminent threat” of arson and had to protect the building.

Electoral Chief Njie expressed concerned but wants to know who was going to burn down the building.

Analysts say Mr. Jammeh may have tampered with sensitive electoral materials ahead of hearings. Jammeh has appointed six foreign justices from Nigeria and Sierra Leone to hear his petition. Mr. Njie would need to be in his office to served with court documents.

Electoral ballots remain at the IEC for 30 days in case a recount is requested. Njie insists that Jammeh is fighting a lost case and would proof ever vote cast.

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