General News of Sunday, 22 January 2017
An agreement reached between Yahya Jammeh and mediators of the political situation in The Gambia has gagged possible acts of political witch hunting of the former President by the new leader, Adama Barrow.
The Joint Declaration by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) has charged the new Gambian President to ensure that the rights of Mr Jammeh are respected and “there is no intimidation, harassment of former regime members and supporters, in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia.”
The mediators also declared their commitment to work with the new President “to prevent the seizure of assets and properties lawfully belonging to former President Jammeh or his family and those of his Cabinet members, government officials and Party supporters, as guaranteed under the Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.”
The declaration, published on the UN website, lays to rest speculations that an Adama Barrow-led government may pursue a vigorous campaign against the former ruler’s many acts of human rights abuses.
After conceding defeat to Adama Barrow after elections in December, Yahya Jammeh, who has held on to power for more than 20 years retracted his concession and called for fresh elections.
Although Mr Jammeh based his U-turn on perceived electoral irregularities, political analysts blame it on pledges by some elements of Mr Barrow’s coalition party to punish the former President for his poor human rights records.
Mr Jammeh only left the West African country for Guinea, Conakry, on Saturday, ending weeks of political tension as peace talks to get him to relinquish power failed.
Adama Barrow is expected to return The Gambia from Senegal – where he was inaugurated as President on Thursday – to begin his rule as President.
Read below the full 14-point declaration by the ECOWAS, AU and UN.
Joint Declaration by the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the United Nations on the Political Situation of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia
1.Following the Decision of the Summit of the ECOWAS Authority taken on 17th December 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria, Mediation efforts, including visits to Banjul, were undertaken by the Chair of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, HE President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Mediator, HE President Muhammadu Buhari and Co-Mediator on The Gambia, HE former President John Dramani Mahama, along with HE President Ernest Bai Koroma to mediate on the political impasse with Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh.
2.Following further mediation efforts by HE President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and HE President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea Conakry with HE Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, the former President of the Republic of The Gambia, and in consultation with the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, the Chairperson of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, this declaration is made with the purpose of reaching a peaceful resolution to the political situation in The Gambia.
3.ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commend the goodwill and statesmanship of His Excellency former President Jammeh, who with the greater interest of the Gambian people in mind, and in order to preserve the peace, stability and security of The Gambia and maintain its sovereignty, territorial integrity and the dignity of the Gambian people, has decided to facilitate an immediate peaceful and orderly transition process and transfer of power to President Adama Barrow in accordance with the Gambian constitution.
4. In furtherance of this, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it assures and ensures the dignity, respect, security and rights of HE former President Jammeh, as a citizen, a party leader and a former Head of State as provided for and guaranteed by the 1997 Gambian Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.
5. Further, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it fully guarantees, assures and ensures the dignity, security, safety and rights of former President Jammeh’s immediate family, cabinet members, government officials, Security Officials and party supporters and loyalists.
6. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that no legislative measures are taken by it that would be inconsistent with the previous two paragraphs.
7. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN urge the Government of The Gambia to take all necessary measures to assure and ensure that there is no intimidation, harassment of former regime members and supporters, in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia.
8. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to prevent the seizure of assets and properties lawfully belonging to former President Jammeh or his family and those of his Cabinet members, government officials and Party supporters, as guaranteed under the Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.
9. In order to avoid any recriminations, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia on national reconciliation to cement social, cultural and national cohesion.
10. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN underscore strongly the important role of the Gambian Defence and Security Forces in the maintenance of peace and stability of The Gambia and commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it takes all appropriate measures to support the maintenance of the integrity of the [Defence and] Security Forces and guard against all measures that can create division and a breakdown of order.
11. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN will work to ensure that host countries that offer “African hospitality” to former President Jammeh and his family do not become undue targets of harassment, intimidation and all other pressures and sanctions.
12. In order to assist a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power and the establishment of a new government, HE former President Jammeh will temporarily leave The Gambia on 21 January 2017, without any prejudice to his rights as a citizen, a former President and a Political Party Leader.
13. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN will work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that former President Jammeh is at liberty to return to The Gambia at any time of his choosing in accordance with international human rights law and his rights as a citizen of the Gambia and a former head of state.
14. Pursuant to this declaration, ECOWAS will halt any military operations in The Gambia and will continue to pursue peaceful and political resolution of the crisis.
Done this 21st day of January 2017 in Banjul, The Gambia