Gambia Judge Declines To Rule On President’s Election Challenge

Gambia’s Supreme Court has declined ruling on President Yahya Jammeh’s petition to overturn his election defeat, the report said on Tuesday.

It said that many Gambians wait nervously to see how the veteran leader will react to his rival’s planned inauguration this week.

Jammeh initially conceded defeat to opposition leader Adama Barrow following the Dec. 1 poll and later changed his mind, drawing widespread condemnation and the threat of a military intervention by regional neighbours.

Whether Gambia succeeds in swearing in Barrow is viewed as a test for democracy in West Africa, a region which is seeking to draw a line under a history of coups and autocratic rule.

The Supreme Court has not sat for over a year and the entire judge’s seats bar that of the chief justice are unoccupied.

Jammeh has hired judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone to hear the petitions, but they have failed to arrive in Gambia.

“It is crystal clear that the justices from Nigeria and Serra Leone are not coming,” the court’s Nigerian Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle said.

The chief justice said the court would be adjourned until the next regular session in either May or November, but added that the petitions could be heard if the judges arrived sooner.

The court’s inability to convene only deepens the political crisis in Gambia. Allies of Jammeh said there could be no inauguration with petitions still pending before the court.

“In the interest of justice, the petition must be heard and determined before the inauguration can take place,” said Edward Gomez, a lawyer for Jammeh’s APRC political party, reacting to the adjournment. (Reuters/NAN)