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“You can’t fool us Mr. Faal”: Gambian ICC lawyer and Presidential candidate faces backlash from youths

On Sunday, December 5th, three Presidential candidates, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, Essa Faal and Mama Kandeh made a joint statement at the residence of Mr. Darboe in rejection of the election result. There was also a representative from APRC, Yahya Jammeh’s former party.

In a statement read by Mr. Darboe, the three candidates jointly “refused to endorse some of the results that were announced through the media,”.

“We are investigating this matter and our partners, to determine our future course of action. At this point in time, we reject the results announced thus far by the IEC” Mr. Darboe continued

Right after the statement was released, Gambians in their numbers expressed disappointment to the candidates especially Essa Faal, a man who has been an inspiration to many young people for the job he has done in the just ended TRRC.

Many argued that they expected Essa Faal to be a reasonable fellow and not one who would be easily influenced by political games and emotions. The fact that Mr. Faal scored only 2% of the total vote and that no concrete evidence was presented to suggest any foul play, many found it hard to comprehend what motivated his Sunday’s action.

Upon public backlash, Mr. Faal retracted his position and released a statement on Monday to announce his acceptance of the election results and equally congratulated the President. However, many Gambians quickly noted Faal’s failure to issue an unreserved apology to The Gambian people for his ‘risky’ post-election move. According to him, his Sunday’s action was a mere post-election discussion with the other opposition leaders and the visit to Darboe’s residence is an act of respect to an elderly person as culture dictated.

Such prompted many Gambian youths to call out the lawyer for playing down his role in rejecting the election result: “you can’t fool us Essa Faal” many youths commented. Essa Faal made an unwise move, but he still has a place in future Gambian politics.

WHO IS ESSA FAAL?

Mr. Faal served under Jammeh’s military regime as a young lawyer. He was later appointed by Jammeh to represent The Gambia at the UN mission but eventually moved to the ICC. Faal is a defense counsel at the ICC who worked in many high-profile cases including that of Charles Taylor, William Rutto of Kenya, Saif al-Islam Gadaffi etc. After the change of regime in The Gambia, Faal returned home as a lead counsel in the just ended TRRC and work there has been widely applauded by many Gambians.

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