Embatled Gambia President Yahya Jammeh has made a desperate bid at the Supreme Court to stop President-elect Adama Barrow from being sworn-in pending the outcome of his election petition.
Mr Barrow is due to be sworn-in next Friday as the Gambia’s third president after he was declared winner of last month’s presidential election by the country’s electoral commission.
Mr Jammeh had initially conceded defeat and praised the electoral system as rigged proof. He changed his mind a week later and declared the results null and void citing huge and unacceptable mistakes by the electoral commission.
He later filed a suit at the Supreme Court asking judges to determine that Adama Barrow was not duly elected or returned as president, and that the said election was void.
But the court is unable to hold a hearing until May – as most of the judges come from neighbouring countries – and Mr Jammeh’s mandates ends on January 18.
He has since filed another motion asking the Supreme Court to issue an order restraining Mr Barrow from presenting himself before the Chief Justice of the Gambia or any judicial or quasi-judicial officer or any person in whatever capacity whatsoever for swearing-in or inauguration as president of the Gambia on January 19, 2017 or any other date pending the determination of the election petition.
The suit which was prepared by Mr Jammeh’s lawyer, Edward Gomez and supported with the sworn affidavit of Seedy Njie, a nominated member of the National Assembly, minister of Information and spokesman for Mr Jammeh’s APRC party, also wants the court to make an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Mr Jammeh, his government, agents, servants, workers, employees or any person acting in whatever capacity from preparing, arranging, organising, conducting, partaking or participating in any manner or form in the swearing-in and/inaugurating of Mr Barrow.
The Gambia’s Supreme Court has not been properly constituted since May 2015 following the unexplained dismissal of two justices by Mr Jammeh. And it is not clear whether a single justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, will be able to hear Mr Jammeh’s motion.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is spearheading regional (ECOWAS) efforts to persuade Mr Jammeh to stand down, and yesterday Nigerian MPs in the lower house of parliament voted to grant Mr Jammeh asylum if he gave up power.