Jam­meh to con­test elec­tion in court

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Gam­bia’s in­cum­bent head of state Yahya Jam­meh will con­test in court the elec­tion vic­tory handed to op­po­si­tion can­di­date Adama Bar­row, his party has said. In a shock re­jec­tion of his de­feat at the polls, Jam­meh cited in a speech broad­cast late Fri­day “un­ac­cept­able errors” by elec­tion au­thor­i­ties. He was re­fer­ring to a read­just­ment of the votes counted in the De­cem­ber 1 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Jam­meh’s dec­la­ra­tion was “a pre­lude to a pe­ti­tion that the (rul­ing) APRC Party is in the process of fil­ing be­fore the Supreme Court of the Gam­bia against a fraud de­ci­sion of the IEC (In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion),” his party said in a state­ment re­leased late Saturday.

Jam­meh had said Fri­day that he had pre­vi­ously ac­cepted the elec­toral results “be­liev­ing that the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion was in­de­pen­dent and hon­est and re­li­able”, but would now “re­ject the results in to­tal­ity.” Jam­meh’s swift con­ces­sion of de­feat on De­cem­ber 2 had stunned ob­servers and led to cel­e­bra­tions in the coun­try.

Con­sti­tu­tion­ally Jam­meh has 10 days af­ter the elec­tion re­sult is de­clared to file a com­plaint, but that dead­line-De­cem­ber 12 — is a bank hol­i­day, mean­ing he may have an extra day in lieu. His lawyers might also ar­gue he has 10 days af­ter the re­count dec­la­ra­tion, ac­cord­ing to le­gal ex­perts. The Supreme Court has not sat in more than a year, so judges will have to be ap­pointed be­fore they can con­sider the pres­i­dent’s le­gal com­plaint, po­ten­tially de­lay­ing Bar­row’s inau­gu­ra­tion.

Jam­meh, a de­vout Mus­lim who seized power in 1994 in the for­mer British colony, warned Gam­bians not to take to the streets to protest his de­ci­sion, rais­ing con­cerns from rights groups. “Pres­i­dent Jam­meh’s re­jec­tion of the elec­tion results and his state­ment that he will not tol­er­ate protest risks lead­ing to in­sta­bil­ity and pos­si­ble re­pres­sion,” said Sab­rina Mah­tani, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s West Africa Re­searcher. Lat­est of­fi­cial fig­ures gave Bar­row 43.29 per­cent of the votes in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, while Jam­meh took 39.64 per­cent.

The turnout was 59 per­cent. Those fig­ures re­flect the cor­rec­tion is­sued Mon­day by elec­tion au­thor­i­ties, show­ing a slim­mer-than-thought vic­tory for Bar­row, of just over 19,000 votes. Bar­row on Saturday called on Jam­meh to drop his chal­lenge, while the UN, US and other foreign au­thor­i­ties lam­basted Jam­meh and urged Gam­bians to keep the peace.

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