Jammeh's hasty bid to find judges to hear his case

With Adama Barrow due to be sworn in on January 19, the Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh insists the legal route is the only "peaceful resolution".

The Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh called on regional heads of state to help the country find judges so that its Supreme Court can hear his objections to losing a presidential election last month, two days after Nigeria’s president failed to persuade him to step down.

Jammeh filed an injunction at the court to stop the swearing-in of opposition leader Adama Barrow due January 19 and needs judges to hear the case as soon as possible, according to a recording of a phone conversation he had on Sunday with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that was broadcast on television. Sirleaf is the current chair of the Economic Community of West African States, which is considering to force Jammeh to stand down.

“The only peaceful resolution of this impasse is through the courts,” Jammeh told Sirleaf in the video. Sirleaf responded that it’s a good idea if Jammeh puts his request in a written statement in which he pledges to follow the Constitution. “Then we can move on and encourage Nigeria and other people to get the judges to come there,” she said, according to the broadcast.

The Supreme Court said it may be able to hear cases in May after a meeting earlier this month was canceled because there weren’t enough judges. It’s been two years since the court held a session. The Gambia’s Bar Association last month urged the chief justice, a Nigerian national, to resign because he wasn’t independent.

Asylum offer

A delegation led by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met with Jammeh on Friday but failed to resolve the crisis. Buhari planned to offer Jammeh asylum, according to Abdulrazak Namdas, a spokesperson for the House of Representatives, which approved the proposal. The African Union says it will no longer recognise Jammeh as president as of January 19.

President-elect Barrow will stay in neighboring Senegal until his inauguration, Agence de Presse Senegalaise reported Sunday, citing an official it didn’t identify. The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal on three sides.

After ruling for 22 years, Jammeh surprised the nation of less than 2-million people by acknowledging he lost the December 1 vote, only to change his mind a week later and file a petition to challenge the outcome. – Bloomberg

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