By Alhagie Jobe
Human Rights Organisations and Civil Society Associations based in Dakar, Senegal, on Saturday made a loud call on outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to respect the choice of the sovereign people of The Gambia and lead a peaceful transition process.
The post-election solidarity march at Place De Obelisque in Dakar organized by Article 19 West Africa, Amnesty International, RADDHO and ISDH coincided with the West African leaders’ Summit in Abuja, Nigeria in which Gambia’s current political crisis dominates the agenda.
The crisis is ignited by outgoing President Yahya Jammeh who ruled the country for the past 22 years and was defeated on December 1st by an opposition Coalition led by President-elect Adama Barrow. Initially, Mr Jammeh conceded defeat and congratulated President-elect Adama Barrow but a week after, he made U-turn and rejected the election results in totality blaming the electoral body of certain irregularities leading to his defeat and further announced that the results are ‘null and void.’
“President Yahya Jammeh rejected the election results and the fact that he stated that he would tolerate no demonstration, can cause instability and could lead to a crackdown” the Dakar-based Human Rights Organisations and Civil Society Associations said in a joint statement at the Dakar solidarity march.
Mr Jammeh further called for fresh election in the country to be supervised by what he called ‘a God fearing electoral body” but the Human Rights Organisations and Civil Society Associations called on him to respect the choice of the sovereign people of The Gambia and as well lead a peaceful and orderly transition process.
Meanwhile, the announcements on state television, threw Gambia’s future into doubt as President-elect Adama Barrow rubbished Mr Jammeh’s claimed and urged him to ensure a smooth transition and hand over power.
Despite international condemnations from the UN Security Council, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, the United States, European Union and others asking him to handover power, Mr Jammeh’s APRC party went ahead to file a petition at the Supreme Court to challenge the result that he has already declared null and void.
The petition was file same day when heavyweight quartet of West African leaders were holding talks with Mr Jammeh to persuade him to accept the will of the people and leave after 22 years. The delegation led by ECOWAS chair and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also included Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s outgoing President John Mahama as well as the UN Africa envoy Mohamad Ibn Chambas.
“We call on the outgoing President to respect the injunction of the Joint Statement of the ECOWAS and the AU on the situation in Gambia and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. We also remind the relevant provisions of Article 23 (4) of the Charter of the AU on Democracy and Governance” the Dakar-based Human Rights Organisations and Civil Society Associations said in the joint statement.
The Dakar-based Human Rights Organisations and Civil Society Associations also invited Gambian defense and security forces to remain neutral and to work for the safety of the elected president and that of all Gambian citizens.
Meanwhile, several people spoke at the event among them Fatou Jagne-Senhgore, directress of Article 19 West Africa, Seydi Gassama of Amnesty International, Moustapha Diakhate, Majority leader of Senegal National Assembly, Dr Sedat Jobe, Gambia’s former Foreign Minister and diplomat and other Gambians living in exile in Senegal as well as Senegalese nationals who attended to show solidarity and support.