Court asked to block Gambia inauguration

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BANJUL: A lawyer for The Gambia’s president has filed an injunction asking the Supreme Court to bar the swearing in of the president-elect this month, as Yahya Jammeh battles on in his attempt to annul his election defeat.

The strongman of 22 years initially acknowledged opponent Adama Barrow as winner of the December 1 presidential polls but later backtracked and lodged a legal case to trigger new elections.

“Barrister Edward Gomez has filed an injunction asking the Supreme Court to grant order barring the swearing in of President-elect Adama Barrow. He filed this document few minutes close to 6:00 pm,” a judicial source told AFP late Thursday.

The lawyer asked the court to prevent Barrow’s planned inauguration for January 19 until the legal case had been settled, according to a document seen by AFP.


But the Gambia’s chief Supreme Court justice said this week the challenge could not be heard for several months as it did not have a full bench, and the extra judges needed to hear the case were not available.

The Gambia relies on foreign judges, notably from Nigeria, to staff its courts due to a lack of trained professionals in the tiny West African state.

In response to the injunction request, Barrow’s office said that Jammeh could not exceed his five-year mandate, which expires on January 18.

“The winner should prepare for inauguration while the loser prepares for Court. This is the fact that no Gambian should deny,” it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Nigeria said their president should consider giving asylum to Jammeh as a way of ending the political crisis in The Gambia.

A motion passed in parliament’s lower chamber on Thursday gave members’ backing to regional efforts to resolve the dispute.

The MPs said “the clock is ticking fast” for The Gambia and there was a need to step up diplomacy, as the possibility of violence and mass displacement threatened West African stability.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who is leading the regional diplomatic transition effort, should “extend Nigeria’s readiness to offer… Jammeh safe haven in Nigeria to live securely as a way of ending the political stalemate,” they said.

There was no immediate response from Buhari, who is expected to travel to Banjul on Friday for talks.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said Tuesday that “violence should be avoided but nothing is ruled out” by regional bloc ECOWAS to ensure The Gambia’s constitution was upheld.

Jammeh also warned the international community against interfering in the country’s political crisis.

In an address broadcast on state-run television, he lashed out at “an unprecedented level of foreign interference in our elections and internal affairs and also a sustained smear campaign, propaganda and misinformation.”

AFP

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