The Gambia’s top court has said it was adjourning until January 10 a case filed by strongman Yahya Jammeh, who is seeking to annul the results of the country’s presidential elections. The Supreme Court, presided by Nigerian-born Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, ordered the adjournment because the chief defendant — the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) — had not been summonsed to attend.
Jammeh, in power for 22 years, was defeated by opposition candidate Adama Barrow in the December 1 poll. Barrow’s inauguration is due to take place on January 19. Jammeh initially accepted the result but then reversed position a week later, stoking international concerns about the future of the tiny west African country.
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His complaint to the court is about alleged irregularities in the ballot count by the IEC and charges that in one region his supporters were intimidated. Jammeh’s lawyer, Edward Gomez, informed the court that the IEC had not been served with a summons by Jammeh, the plaintiff.
As a result, Gomez argued, it was in the interest of justice to give time for the IEC to receive the papers requiring it to attend. “In view of the case that the Independent Electoral Commission is not served, I hereby order that the case is adjourned till 10 January,” Judge Fagbenle announced.
Gomez told reporters afterwards: “Going to court is a right and is a process, and nobody should deny a party that right.
“That is all we are saying and at the end of the day it is the ruling of the court that matters. And I believe we will all abide by it and respect it.”
Experts say Jammeh has bought time for his bid to stay in office by taking his appeal to a court that has lain dormant since May 2015 and whose judges had been fired under Jammeh’s orders save Fagbenle.
Court sources said six foreign judges, excluding Fagbenle, have now been appointed by Jammeh to serve on the Supreme Court.
Out of the total seven judges, five would hear the petition. If a review of the decision is sought by one of the parties, the case would then be considered by the full seven-member panel, the sources said.