The Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that the Constitution of The Gambia must be respected in spite of President Yahya Jammeh’s appeal to the sub-regional body for judges to authenticate the country’s election result.
On Sunday, January 15, President Jammeh telephoned President Sirleaf to make an appeal to ECOWAS Authority to make judges available to address the crisis in his country, an Executive Mansion statement has reported.
As Jammeh carried out his plea with President Sirleaf, he had the call on speaker phone as his television crew and others recorded the conversation for broadcast, unbeknown to the ECOWAS Chair.
Gambian newspaper Freedom described the scenario as “absurd in the highest order.”
Jammeh told President Sirleaf that he would like for her to contact her colleagues so that his injunction against the Dec. 1 elections at the Gambian Supreme Court should be addressed.
“The so-called January 19 inauguration date for Adama Barrow cannot take place until my injunction is decided by the court and until then the status quo must remain,” the outgoing Gambian President begged.
He said his argument is premised on the Gambian Constitution and reaffirmed his commitment to uphold and observe the rule of law during the unsettled political impasse threatening Gambia’s peace.
Although, Jammeh emphasized that his request for ECOWAS intervention to prevail on member states to send judges to the Gambia should be communicated to the ECOWAS body by President Sirleaf he ruled out the possibility of President-elect Barrow to be sworn in on Thursday, January, 19.
In response, President Sirleaf said, that she would consult with all the ECOWAS mediating teams on what the Gambian leader had said. However she advised him that, “it would be a good idea if he put out a statement, making a request to the ECOWAS body that you only want peace and that you are going to follow the constitution; there’s an infraction, they should please try and get the judges for you and the court decision must be the way to go. A small statement like that would make everybody comfortable. Then we can move on and encourage Nigeria and others to get the justices to come there.”
She then thanked Mr. Jammeh “for helping us all find peace. Gambia needs peace and ECOWAS wants peace,” she said.
To this, Jammeh concurred, promising to “immediately” do as his Liberian counterpart advised. He took to Gambian television and broadcast a message of peace as advised by his “sister and friend, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority.”
No change in ECOWAS position
However, an Executive Mansion press release quotes President Sirleaf saying, “This was nothing new as he had said the same thing in meetings with the mediating team twice in Banjul.” She said unfortunately, being the person that he is, Jammeh recorded and televised their conversation without advising her of his intent to do so.
In her statement, President Sirleaf declared, “Let me make it clear that there is no change in ECOWAS position. The Constitution of The Gambia must be respected.”
Meanwhile report from Banjul says Jammeh’s ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) yesterday convened an extraordinary session in Banjul to use his rubber stamp Parliament to legislate a bill that would extend his mandate and also declare a state emergency in The Gambia.
In another development, Gambian Army Major Seedy Joof was arrested on Sunday night at his Kombo Lamin home by what is described as “Jammeh’s assassin” team called the jungullars.
He was whisked to an unknown destination.
Major Joof’s arrest has to do with an alleged statement attributed to him that called on Jammeh to reconsider his decision and peacefully hand over power to President-elect Barrow. Joof is said to be a Barrow loyalist.
Latest report from Banjul says Gambia’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Abdou Colley yesterday resigned from the Jammeh government with immediate effect.