ELECTION RESULT DISPUTE
Gambia’s Supreme Court thwarts Jammeh’s legal challenge
The Supreme Court requires a full bench to hear the legal case, with new judges due only 'in May or November'
Banjul — The Gambia’s chief Supreme Court justice dealt a blow to President Yahya Jammeh’s legal challenge against the result of December’s election on Tuesday, saying it would not be heard for several months.
Jammeh’s political party lodged a legal case on his behalf last month aimed at annulling his December 1 election defeat to opponent Adama Barrow, and triggering new elections.
"We can only hear this matter when we have a full bench of the Supreme Court," Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle said, adding that the extra judges needed to hear the case were not available and could arrive only in May or November.
Gambia relies on foreign judges, notably from Nigeria, to staff its courts due to a lack of trained professionals in the west African state.
The chief justice added that he would prefer the country to resolve its political deadlock through the mediation under way by a group of west African leaders, who are attempting to persuade Jammeh to respect the constitution and step aside.
"This is why alternative dispute resolution is important," he said. "We are now only left with the Ecowas [Economic Community of West African States] mediation initiative and the inter-party committee set up by government to resolve dispute," he added.
The inter-party committee is a UN-backed body aimed at resolving arguments between different Gambian political parties. But Jammeh has made it clear he would not vacate office until his complaint was heard.
Nigeria’s foreign minister said the use of force remained an option.