Gambia: President Jammeh appoints mediator amid political deadlock, as the Buhari-led ECOWAS delegation postpones trip to Banjul

Gambia’s embattled President Yayah Jammeh today, 11 January appointed a mediator to facilitate meetings between himself and president-elect Adama Barrow.

The ruling party’s secretary general will mediate between Jammeh’s supporters and the opposition to “resolve any mistrust and issues,” Jammeh said in a televised address to the nation early today.

He refuses to accept the election result because it was “full of arithmetic errors and anomalies, it also could not be credibly explained,” the outgoing president added.

Jammeh also ordered the justice minister and national assembly to draft a general amnesty bill, while issuing an executive order not to arrest or prosecute citizens for “acts or omissions” committed during the pre- and post-electoral period, between 1 November 2016 and 31 January 2017.

The announcement comes a day after the Supreme Court postponed hearing a court petition filed by Jammeh to challenge the election results.

The case was adjourned to Monday, 16 January since only one of a required minimum of five judges were present, the court’s registrar said.

Experts however believe it will be highly unlikely that four additional judges will be present on Monday, because the Supreme Court has not been operational since Jammeh fired several of the court’s judges in mid-2016.

Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known before he announced his candidacy, said in a statement he is planning to take office on 19 January, as scheduled.

“The right of a victor to be sworn in as president and the duty of an incumbent to leave office when one’s term ends are not invalidated by filing an election petition,” the 51-year-old president-elect said.

An ECOWAS delegation led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has meanwhile postponed a meeting with Jammeh aimed at helping to resolve the political crisis from Wednesday to Friday. The postponement was at the request of the Gambian leader.

The trip of the delegation, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Sierra Leone and former President John Mahama of Ghana as well as the president of the ECOWAS commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, and the Special Representative of United Nations for West Africa, Dr Ibn Mohammed Chambas, is seen as a last-ditch attempt to peacefully resolve the election crisis in the country.

During an earlier meeting in December, West African leaders had failed to convince Jammeh to permit a peaceful transition of power.

Ken Kamara with agency reports

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