Africa Group Statement on the Restoration of Democracy and Rule of Law in The Gambia

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The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability Calls for the Restoration of Democracy and Rule of Law in The Gambia (download: PDF)

The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) joins the unanimous calls from the international community demanding the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in The Gambia. The AGJA expresses its deep concern and disapproval at attempts by outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to undermine stability in the country by demanding that the recent results of the presidential elections be overturned. The AGJA further welcomes all domestic, regional, and international efforts to support President-elect Adama Barrow and ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of power.

Presidential elections were held in The Gambia on 1 December 2016. The results of the election gave President-elect Barrow a clear victory. Following the election, Mr. Jammeh announced that he would concede the presidency, which he has held for the last 22 years. However, Mr. Jammeh subsequently declared that he would no longer respect the election results and filed a petition with the Supreme Court to challenge the vote, throwing the country into uncertainty. In response, Gambians signalled their disapproval of Jammeh’s actions en masse, unifying around the democratic process in the country.

Mr. Jammeh’s decision has also been met with severe criticism by African states, regional organisations including ECOWAS, the United Nations Security Council, and other members of the international community. On 17 December, ECOWAS declared that it unequivocally supported the results of the presidential elections in The Gambia. ECOWAS further agreed that it would “take all necessary actions to enforce the results” of the elections and nominated a mediation committee, led by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The AGJA stated: “Any subversion of the democratic will of the Gambian people by Mr. Jammeh is unacceptable and must be emphatically rejected. Mr. Jammeh’s first decision — to respect the outcome of the election — was the right one.”

The Africa Group added: “The AGJA stands in solidarity with the brave citizens of The Gambia in defending democracy and rule of law. All efforts to restore and protect The Gambia’s democracy and rule of law must be supported. The AGJA joins the people of The Gambia in expressing its appreciation of the show of unity and purpose from ECOWAS. It is the AGJA’s hope that ongoing mediation to resolve this crisis through peaceful means will be successful. Reflecting its ongoing and unyielding commitment to peace, justice and accountability in Africa, the AGJA stands ready to support these efforts.”

In line with its Kilimanjaro Principles for Justice and Accountability, the AGJA continues to offer its expertise, mediation and facilitation to all African states, regional organisations, and other relevant actors.

The members of the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability:

  • Dapo Akande (Nigeria)
    Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford
  • Femi Falana (Nigeria)
    Human rights activist and lawyer
  • Hassan Bubacar Jallow (Gambia)
    Former Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
  • Richard Goldstone (South Africa)
    Former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia
  • Tiyanjana Maluwa (Malawi)
    H. Laddie Montague Chair in Law, Pennsylvania State University School of Law
  • Athaliah Molokomme (Botswana)
    Attorney General of Botswana
  • Betty Kaari Murungi (Kenya)
    Independent Consultant on Human Rights and Transitional Justice
  • Mohamed Chande Othman (Tanzania)
    Chief Justice of Tanzania
  • Navi Pillay (South Africa)
    Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Catherine Samba-Panza (Central African Republic)
    Former Transitional President of the Central African Republic
  • Fatiha Serour (Algeria)
    Director of Serour Associates for Inclusion and Equity
  • Abdul Tejan-Cole (Sierra Leone)
    Executive Director of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa