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Gambia Gambia's Supreme Court to decide on election petition

Gambia's Supreme Court was expected to rule on Tuesday over whether the December 2016 presidential election was manipulated or not. A West African delegation is on its way to Banjul to meet President Jammeh.

After initially accepting the results of the December 1 election, incumbent President Yahya Jammeh and his party filed legal complaints against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), alleging manipulation of ballot counting and intimidation of his supporters.

Jammeh lost the elections to opposition candidate Adama Barrow.

No judges on the panel

There may be obstacles in the way of a Supreme Court ruling.

"There is a problem of getting judges to sit on [the case]," Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, director of the Center for Democracy and Governance in Abuja told DW. "They have had lots of problems trying to illegally recruit judges."

The court has been dormant since May 2015 after several judges were fired for commuting death sentences of former military officers to life in prison. Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, a Nigerian, is the lone sitting judge on the panel. Even if additional judges were installed, Ibrahim believes that whatever decisions they make "would have no credibility."  

Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is to lead a delegation of West African leaders to Gambia in an effort to convince President Jammeh to step down.

The mandate for Jammeh's five-year term expires on January 18, after which president-elect Adama Barrow is due to take power. If Jammeh refuses to step aside by that date, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may order a military intervention.

"Violence should be avoided but nothing is ruled out," said Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. 

Buhari is to join Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama in the Gambian capital of Banjul on Wednesday. They are to "discuss with President Jammeh the imperative to respect the constitution," Onyeama said.

Not backing down

"In the absence of a court and the pure impossibility of the parties being served in time to appear and enter a response, it seems that an adjournment of the case will be the most likely outcome," Gambian legal expert Aziz Bensouda told French news agency AFP.

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