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General News of Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Judges to blame for Gambia's crisis - Lawyer Akuffo

Lawyer Kwame Akuffo play videoLawyer Kwame Akuffo

Ghanaian lawyer, Kwame Akuffo has waded into the debate over the Gambian crisis opining that the cure to the Gambian situation is by allowing the rule of law and constitution to operate as they should.

In his view, the Chief Justice and Judicial system of Gambia is to blame for the current unrest the country is experiencing and not the refusal Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to concede defeat.

A real estate developer, Adama Barrow defeated Yahya Jammah in the December 1 2016 Gambian election in which Yahaya Jammeh conceded defeat. He rescinded his decision weeks later and have petitioned the Supreme Court of Gambia challenging the legitimacy of the election.

Speaking to Paul Adom-Otchere on Good evening Ghana, Lawyer Kwame Akuffo explained that the decision of the Supreme Court judges to leave the country after the petition was sent has created a void and a constitutional confusion which has led Jammeh to act as he is doing.

Making reference to the Gambian constitution, Lawyer Akuffo justified Yahaya Jammeh’s decision to declare a state of emergency adding that it’s constitutional for him to hold unto to power for the time being.

“I think that the Supreme Court justices who have left the jurisdiction of the Gambia have played into the hands of Jammeh. If u look at art. 124 of the Gambian constitution when an election petition comes up the court is to try the case timeously. For e.g. with respect to the validity of an election it should be ten days and not later than 30days. You have left the republic of Gambia, there is some vacuum which has created some constitutional confusion, and he says that based on this there’s likely to be some emergency with respect to public matters. He has gone on under the article 34 to declare a state of emergency”

“I looked at the Gambian constitution and Jammeh had to justify with the constitution, the extension of his mandate. If you declare a state of emergency then the national assembly extends the term of the President for 90 days. So this is the situation we face now, Jammeh gets an automatic 90days under their constitution. Why are the judges out of the republic? They should be getting back into Gambia to determine the matter. I don’t want a situation where we begin to frown upon the legitimate right of a sitting President simply because he has been there for too long?”

He expressed disappointment about ECOWAS decision to stampede the process and back one candidate based on an aspect of the constitution instead of addressing the situation holistically using the constitution as their guide.

Lawyer Akuffo believed that though it may be legitimate that the Judges left the country for fear of their safety, the West African Community can step in to provide some assurance of safety, protection and independence for the judiciary to do its work.

He criticized the judge’s decision to push the sitting to May explaining that it amounts to shirking of responsibility and could provoke Jammeh to terminate their appointment which he’s entitled to do under the constitution.