4 soldiers arrested in alleged coup plot, 3 on the run

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By Omar Bah

The government has announced the arrest of four soldiers of the Gambia Armed Forces for allegedly attempting to stage a coup. In a statement yesterday, the Gambia government said: “Based on intelligence reports that some soldiers of the Gambian army were plotting to overthrow the democratically elected Government of President Adama Barrow, the GAF High Command in a swift military operation conducted yesterday (Tuesday), arrested four soldiers linked to this alleged coup plot.”

According to the statement, the apprehended soldiers, Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera from the Gambia Navy as the alleged ringleader of the plot, Couple Mbarra Touray from 1st Infantry Battalion, Yundum Barracks, Couple Ebrahima Sanno from military police who is currently on study leave and Sergeant Gibril Darboe from the Gambia Navy, are currently helping the Military Police with their investigations.

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“Meanwhile, the army is in pursuit of three accomplices; Corporal Njie B from the State Guards Battalion; Warrant Officer Class 2 Jadama from The Gambia Navy and one Badjie also from The Gambia Navy.  The first names of Jadama and Badjie are yet to be established. Investigations into this matter are continuing and members of the public would be accordingly informed of any developments as the situation unfolds. Citizens, residents and members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps are urged to carry on with their normal activities as the situation is under total control and there is no need to panic,” the government statement added.

Reactions

Reacting to the foiled coup plot, political and human rights activist, Pa Samba Jow, said: “Those celebrating an attempted coup in The Gambia must be losing their minds. The last thing that our country needs is a return to military rule and dictatorship. Barrow is no saint and has betrayed the aspirations of the people, but we will never be able to achieve The Gambia we all aspire for with a military dictatorship. Isn’t it ironic that within a few days of Jammeh boldly claiming that he will be back to rule the country, that a coup attempt is announced? Lest we forget, Jammeh’s rule was one of murder, torture, rape, and other untold atrocities.”

Commenting on the former president’s continued influence in the country’s political discussed, Jow said Jammeh should be arrested and extradited to face justice. “As long as Jammeh continues to freely interfere in our political affairs, he will continue to undermine the stability of our country. Yes, we must pressure Equatorial Guinea to extradite him for trial. Barrow’s political greed is the reason for all this mess. Jammeh’s relevance is due to Barrow’s political naïveté and opportunism. The government cannot continue to accord a criminal like Jammeh the liberty to continue to undermine the  stability of our country,” he added. Jammeh, he added, is an instigator of instability, and therefore must be treated as enemy of the country and people.

“He must not be treated as a decent former head of State. President Barrow must wake up from his slumber and lead. This must redirect him to give the people what was promised; a new constitution, justice for the victims, a fight against corruption, and unfettered democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Civil Society has issued a statement condemning the attempted coup.

The statement reads: “It is with deep concern and dismay that we received the news alleging an attempted Coup d’état by some members of the Gambian Armed Forces. The Gambian Civil Society unequivocally condemns this move by our people in uniform and further renounce any form of unconstitutional change of Government. We urge the Gambia Government to uphold and abide by the rule of law and transparency in handling the situation. Citizens demand to be fully informed and on time on the state of affairs. 

We wish to categorically state our total repudiation of a military coup which is utterly unjustified, unnecessary, and condemnable. As a country that has suffered 22 years of brutality from a regime that came through the barrel of the gun, claiming to be soldiers with a difference, all Gambians must be alert and stand against any attempt to take us back to being under military rule in this country. Furthermore, a look around the sub-region clearly indicates that military rule once started becomes a never-ending cycle of political disruptions in which the blatant violations of human rights and plunder of public wealth become the order of the day. Military rule is a huge setback on the ability of a society to govern itself hence it must be avoided by all means. We must be resolved as a people ‘NEVER AGAIN’ should we allow ourselves to return to tyrannical leadership.  

As civil society, we strongly hold that the governance of the country should only be along the lines of constitutionalism within a democratic dispensation. No amount of disagreement with a sitting government nor the shortcomings of a democratically elected government should warrant any citizen, more so soldiers decide to pick up arms to change the will of the people. The miliary is not a governance body hence it is not their business to intrude into the governance processes and structures of the republic. 

To our men and women in the security services, we salute you for your sacrifice and invaluable service to our dear Motherland and urge you to resist all temptations of unconstitutional change of government. We trust that those amongst you with ill motives will be speedily weeded out to protect the integrity of the majority of patriotic service women and men. Hence our call for Security Sector Reform, rings louder today than ever. 

In conclusion, we wish to remind His Excellency, President Adama Barrow that he bears primary duty to ensure that democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the adherence to the rule of law prevail in the country. In this regard we also remind the men and women of the Gambia Armed Forces of their obligation to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Gambia and refrain from any acts contrary to it. Meantime, we ask all citizens to be alert and stand in defense of democracy and the Constitution.”