In a televised address on Tuesday night, the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh said he would enter into dialogue with the opposition coalition members with a view to resolving the political impasse that bedevils the small West African nation.
Mr Jammeh, who maintains being cheated in the presidential election, is upbeat that Gambians are capable of resolving their differences without external involvement.
President Jammeh first ascended to power in a July 1994 coup d’etat. He has won four consecutive elections. He lost the fifth term bid to the coalition candidate Adama Barrow. Jammeh conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent. He recanted a week later, complaining of irregularities in the polls. The complaint came after the electoral commission made correction to the results. Jammeh and his party filed petition at the Supreme Court where lack of judges prevented the case from proceeding.
Mr. Jammeh’s reversal of decision and high-handed behaviour of his security forces have thrown the country into chaos, with many people leaving the urban areas to the provinces and the neighbouring country.
But after weeks of uncertainty characterised by flurry of diplomatic activity in Banjul, Jammeh said he will take all possible steps within his conscience and law to resolve the impasse.
“I assure everyone that as a Gambian, a Muslim, and a family man no foreigner can love this country and hold its highest interest of heart more than myself and the majority of Gambians. So I will also be taking all possible steps within the constitution and my conscience to do my part to resolve this impasse,” he said.
“Cabinet sat and we will continue to sit and liaise with the National Assembly to take all constitutional measures to make sure that the supremacy of the rule of law and the constitution in the next few days,” Jammeh said.
Jammeh tasked the Secretary General to meet with all stakeholders in the country and prepare a meeting to resolve any mistrust and issues amongst themselves. The Secretary General will also liaise with Justice Minister and the Parliament to draft a general amnesty bill to ensure that a climate of confidence and security within the constitutional mandate is restored.
“In this connection, I hereby issue an executive order to that effect that nobody be arrested or prosecuted due to acts or omissions in the pre and post electoral period from November 1st 2016 to Jan 31st 2017.
“As the whole world has seen, we continue as a people to exhibit the highest degree of fraternity and despite the heated passions we have maintained to the highest degree the virtues of patience, tolerance and mutual respect across ethnic and faith lines,” Jammeh said, appealing to Gambians, particularly political leaders to forgive each other and work together to consolidate peace and harmony in the country.
“As we are all human and bound to make mistakes, we therefore accept this as a test on our faith by Allah individually and collectively as believing people,” Jammeh said. “I ask all Gambians and other nationals in the country to go about their business in peace and security and I assure you that Allah willing all will continue to be well and this will all be resolved in peace.”