(JollofNews) – President Yahya Jammeh’s hopes of using the supreme court to void last month’s election results Tuesday suffered a major setback after his foreign hired judges failed to show up.
The election was called in favour of opposition candidate Adama Barrow who won more than 45% of the vote according to the country’s electoral commission.
Mr Jammeh had initially conceded defeat and praised the country’s 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.
He has also asked the court to declare him ‘duly elected’ as president by virtue of the actual votes.
The Gambia’s supreme court has not been properly constituted since May 2015 following the unexplained dismissal of two justices by Mr Jammeh.
The court has not been able to hold any sitting since then due to the absence of a panel. But following his surprised election defeat, Mr Jammeh hurriedly appointed some judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone to hear his petition.
In an unexpected twist, non of the newly hired judges were in court this morning to hear the case apart from Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle.
Addressing Mr Jammeh’s attorney, Edward Gomez and supporters, Justice Fagbenle said the new judges have not arrived in the country and as result he will not be able to legally hear the case on his own.
“This election petition can only be heard by a panel of supreme court justices,” he said. I am adjourning it until next Monday but do not expect me to change my stand that I cannot hear the case on my own without a full supreme court panel.”
Justice Fagbenle added that he has been informed that the supreme court may not be properly constituted until May 2016.
He suggested to a disappointed Lawyer Gomez, to advice his clients to go for mediation as recommended by the regional group Ecowas, in order to peaceful resolve the political standoff.
Reacting to the judge’s decision, Lawyer Gomez said he was disappointed and President Jammeh will continue to pursue his constitutional right to challenge the election results.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Mr Jammeh’s supporters have held a peaceful protest outside the court asking neighbouring countries especially Senegal not to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs.
The supporters including security officers who were wearing green APRC t-shirts later marched from Independence Drive to the State House, where they are expected to meet with Mr Jammeh and assure him of their cntinuous support.