Gambia’s supreme court ruled on Tuesday that it would not be able to hear the objection to the December 1 election results lodged by incumbent President Yahya Jammeh’s party for several months.
The reason being that the small west African country relies on foreign judges, particularly from Nigeria, to sit in its courts as the country lacks sufficient trained personnel.
Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle said that the court can only the case once there is a full bench, and that the extra judges needed would only be available in May or November. Fagbenle is the only sitting judge, as the court has been inactive since May 2015.
He expressed the hope that the country would resolve the current political crisis through the mediation currently being led by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), under Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group had met with Jammeh in December to persuade him to accept the election results. They had resolved to return on Wednesday, but postponed to Friday, to grant President Jammeh’s request for more time.
Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, has not ruled out military intervention should the diplomatic route not succeed.
President Jammeh however, has been adamant in his refusal to leave office until his complaint was heard by the Supreme Court. On December 20, in a message broadcast on television, he challenged Ecowas on their response to him.
“Unless the Court decides the case, there will be no inauguration on the January 19. And let me see what Ecowas and those big powers behind them can do,” he said on television.