By Lamin Cham
On Friday 15th October, APRC “supreme leader” Yahya Jammeh, made a public declaration sacking the executive committee of the party and naming an interim committee. The members of the “dismissed” committee said Jammeh has no power to do so and on Thursday, 21st October they announced the removal from their committee three members who were named in the new committee.
There is a tug-of-war in the APRC and 10 days since Jammeh’s declaration, the new committee has been unable to wrest control of the party from the committee led by Fabakary Tombong Jatta. The electoral commission has also said it does not recognise the new committee.
The Standard has learnt that in a bid to normalise their status, the members have sought legal advice. Although we cannot confirm who prepared the brief, The Standard is privy to its content.
It claimed that at its national congress in February 2021, the APRC selected Yahya Jammeh as chairman and party leader although it is not certain “whether this selection was formally registered with the electoral body”.
It noted that ten days ago, Jammeh addressed the party loyalists through a telephone call from Equatorial Guinea and said he did not sanction the party to enter an alliance with the NPP and that, by their decision to enter such an alliance, the executive members have left the APRC and thenceforth replaced.
Jammeh advised APRC loyalists to go into an alliance with Ganu party and work with its leader Sheikh Tijan Hydara.
The legal opinion outlined that the decision of the APRC executive committee to go into an alliance with the NPP violates Article 24(1)(j) of the APRC Constitution “which makes it mandatory for any such alliance to be sanctioned by National congress as neither a national congress nor a special national congress was convened to approve the APRC-NPP alliance”.
However, the legal opinion also determined that Jammeh’s announcement of a new executive “violated the party’s constitution because Article 23(1) of the APRC Constitution provided that the National Congress shall be the supreme-making body of the APRC party”.
The lawyer wrote in his advisory: “While I appreciate His Excellency’s anger as regards what has happened, the National Executive Committee that formed the APRC-NPP Alliance did not automatically lose their positions merely because they violated the APRC Constitution by going into Alliance with the NPP without the approval of the National Congress… [T]he selection of new National Executive Committee members is untenable.
“Therefore, although the majority of the APRC supporters have recognised the APRC-Ganu alliance and, the selection of Abdu Jarju [and others], in my opinion, Article 24 of the APRC Constitution is not complied with in this regard.”
The legal opinion suggested that the rival new executive committee should continue to exist de facto and should urgently convene a special national congress to demonstrate its control of the APRC.
“It would be crucial for Yahya Jammeh to invoke his authority as the current chairman of the APRC party to preside over this Special National Congress by audio link to further galvanise the support of the party loyalists to vote massively for the APRC-Ganu alliance to ensure the victory of the alliance in the 4th December 2021 presidential election,” the advisory concluded..