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Authorities reported foiling coup attempt to topple President Barrow, arrested several junior officers.
Govt 21 Dec announced authorities previous day thwarted military plot to overthrow President Barrow. Authorities 20-25 Dec reportedly arrested several junior officers for alleged involvement in coup attempt. Govt 27 Dec set up panel to investigate incident comprised of members of armed forces, police, intelligence services and justice ministry. National Security Adviser Abubakarr Suleiman Jeng 29 Dec alleged plot was sponsored by “civilian collaborators … both within and outside of the country”. Economic Community of West African States and African Union 21 Dec condemned attempted coup.
Opposition contested President Barrow’s re-election after presidential poll proceeded peacefully. Presidential election 4 Dec proceeded peacefully, with high voter turnout of 87%. Three opposition candidates next day rejected partial results that gave incumbent President Barrow early lead; electoral authorities later same day however confirmed Barrow elected for second term with 53% of votes, with runner-up Ousainou Darboe at 27.7%. West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS’s election observation mission 5 Dec appealed to all candidates “to accept the outcome of the election in good faith”. Hundreds or thousands of Darboe supporters 6 Dec gathered in and around capital Banjul to contest Barrow’s re-election; police fired tear gas as crowd started scuffling with Barrow supporters. AU election observation mission same day said poll “conducted in a peaceful and democratic environment” and in line with “national and international standards”; EU 7 Dec welcomed smooth conduct of election, while U.S. same day welcomed “free and fair presidential election”, saying observers noted only “minor procedural irregularities”. Darboe’s United Democratic Party 14 Dec said it had petitioned Supreme Court to nullify results, accused Barrow and his party of vote-buying and other irregularities. Supreme Court 28 Dec dismissed challenge, said petition had not followed proper procedure. Meanwhile, truth and reconciliation commission 24 Dec recommended that special international court be set up to try former President Jammeh – who has lived in exile for five years – for alleged murder, torture and rapes during his 22-year rule.
Hundreds demonstrated in capital Banjul 26 Jan to demand President Barrow honour 2016 commitment to serve for three-year transitional period only; police cracked down on protesters, reportedly arresting 137, including journalists; several police officers and protesters also wounded; govt same day outlawed protest movement. In audio recordings released 12 Jan, former President Jammeh announced plans to return from exile in Equatorial Guinea. Thousands demonstrated on outskirts of Banjul 16 Jan in support of his return. Govt 19 Jan said Jammeh would face “immediate arrest” and “most serious charges” if he returned. Hundreds 25 Jan marched on outskirts of Banjul calling for justice over human rights abuses under Jammeh’s rule.
Thousands demonstrated in capital Banjul 16 Dec in protest against President Barrow’s decision to rule for five years, reneging on his 2016 commitment to serve for three-year transitional period only. Barrow 31 Dec launched new party National People’s Party in move that could allow him to contest 2021 presidential elections without need for other parties to back him.
Special adviser to President Barrow, Mai Ahmad Fatty, resigned 11 Oct amid tug of war between those who want Barrow to serve five-year mandate as stipulated in constitution and those who demand that he respect his election promise to step aside after three years.
Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou 5 Aug announced release of three former army officers employed as hitmen by former President Jammeh after they confessed to Truth and Reconciliation Commission late July, prompting objections from victims and families; Tambadou argued that release was due to lack of legal proceedings to justify further imprisonment.
Hundreds 4 July marched in capital Banjul in support of victims of sexual violence demanding better laws to prevent abuse. Protests came a week after report from NGO Human Rights Watch detailed how former President Jammeh used his power as well as state institutions to entrap and sexually abuse young women. Jammeh’s party, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, called rape allegations against Jammeh by Fatou “Toufah” Jallow in New York Times “smear campaign”. Protests erupted 24 July in Serrekunda near Banjul, sparked by death in custody of young trader, during which protesters attacked police station and police fired tear gas at protesters. Same day another protest took place in Brikama, about 30km from Banjul against lack of development in area, some protesters reportedly injured in clashes with security forces.
Authorities mid-June detained six members of army, reportedly after they admitted before Truth and Reconciliation Commission to having committed human rights violations during rule of former President Jammeh.
Security forces 10 May dispersed demonstration in capital Banjul against alleged attempts by President Barrow and his allies to retract election promise he made in 2016 to step down after 36 months in office. Govt 11 May said fifteen demonstrators had been charged as protest lacked authorisation. Court martial 27 May sentenced seven former soldiers to nine years in jail and another to three years for plotting to overthrow Barrow in 2017 with help of his ousted predecessor Jammeh.
President Barrow reshuffled cabinet after months of tension with his party; 15 March sacked VP Ousainou Darboe and two ministers, appointed Health Minister Isatou Touray as new VP. New cabinet members sworn in 28 March.
At least twenty prisoners 3 Aug escaped from Jeshwang Prison, outside capital Banjul. Police 7 Aug said six prison guards had been arrested on charges of negligence.
Govt 19 July condemned former President Jammeh’s pledge in leaked phone call to return from exile in Equatorial Guinea, said comments were “shocking and subversive”. President Barrow 9 July swore in new Vice President Darboe along with eight ministers. Barrow 5 July swore in members of commission to investigate killing of three anti-mining protesters in Faraba Banta village, about 50km south of capital Banjul in June.
Police fired live ammunition to disperse 18 June protest in Faraba Banta village, about 50km south of capital Banjul, against sand mining, killing three protesters. Next day police said five police officers and six civilians had been arrested; police officers charged with murder 28 June. Police chief Landing Kinteh resigned 21 June. President Barrow 21 June appointed commission of inquiry to investigate incident. Barrow 29 June reshuffled govt, appointed former FM and leader of his United Democratic Party, Ousainou Darboe, as new VP.
In mayoral elections 12 May, ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate Rohey Malick Lowe became first female mayor of capital Banjul. Next day UDP supporters clashed with supporters of former President Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) in Kanifing municipality in west; UDP supporters attacked home of APRC leader in city of Serrekunda in same area. NGOs Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International 16 May said paramilitary unit controlled by then-President Jammeh summarily executed over 50 migrants including 44 Ghanaians in July 2005 and launched campaign calling for prosecution of Jammeh in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) of President Barrow won local elections 12 April with 62 of 120 constituencies. Voter turnout was low at 34%. Police used tear gas to disperse supporters of UDP and former President Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction who were throwing stones at each other on election day in Banjul, with both sides celebrating victory in neighbouring districts.
Police 21 March said they had arrested ten former National Intelligence Agency officers on suspicion of involvement in death in detention of opposition activist Solo Sandeng in April 2016; two reportedly granted bail and eight remained in custody. Police 26 March said they had arrested former National Intelligence Agency security chief in same case.
Govt 8 Feb rejoined Commonwealth almost five years after former President Jammeh withdrew.
Authorities 21 Jan arrested two of former President Jammeh’s generals on their return to Gambia, having fled with Jammeh in Jan 2017; govt did not state charges.
Twelve soldiers arrested between July and Nov charged with treason 17 Nov in court martial, military said soldiers had been talking about overthrowing President Barrow.
People protesting in former President Jammeh’s home village of Kanilai against presence of regional bloc ECOWAS military mission (ECOMIG) clashed with security forces 2 June, one protestor killed, several others injured; about twenty protestors charged including for unlawful assembly, incitement of violence and riot, most granted bail 7 June, trial adjourned 20 June until 4 July. At President Barrow’s request ECOMIG mandate extended 4 June for another twelve months until 22 May 2018.
Justice minister 22 May said Jammeh stole at least $50mn from state. Court order same day froze 88 bank accounts in Jammeh’s or his associates’ names, seized 131 properties and placed temporary hold on fourteen companies linked to him.
In legislative elections 6 April, President Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP) won 31 of 53 available seats in National Assembly. Former ruling party Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) won five. Following APRC victory in Sibanor, Foni Bintang-Karenai district, APRC and UDP supporters clashed 6 April.
Govt 10 March said it would investigate finances of ex-President Jammeh including his personal use of charity bank account. Trial of former intelligence agents allegedly involved in beating to death opposition activist Solo Sandeng in April 2016 adjourned 20 March for re-examination of body. Govt 23 March said it would set up Truth and Reconciliation Commission within six months to look into crimes committed under Jammeh. Seven parties of ruling coalition decided early March to run separately in 6 April parliamentary elections; campaigning started 15 March. Govt end-March requested extradition of former interior minister, Ousman Sonko, from Switzerland. During President Barrow’s visit to Paris mid-March, France agreed to train security forces.
New President Adama Barrow 18 Feb said he had ordered release of 171 prisoners detained without trial and would make constitutional and legal reforms. Police said they arrested 51 people in western town Kafenda, stronghold of ex-President Jammeh, 18-19 Feb for harassing Barrow supporters. Finance minister 20 Feb accused former govt of embezzling more than $5mn in 2014, leaving economy “completely destroyed”. Barrow late Feb replaced head of armed forces Gen Ousman Badjie with Gen Masanneh Kinteh, removed intelligence agency chief Yankuba Badjie and head of national prison system David Colley as part of clear-out of senior officials from Jammeh’s administration. UN 10 Feb received govt’s notice reversing withdrawal from ICC. Barrow 14 Feb said during visit of UK FM Boris Johnson that country will rejoin Commonwealth within months. EU 9 Feb pledged aid worth €225mn. Electoral commission scheduled National Assembly elections for 6 April.
After rejecting defeat in Dec election, former President Jammeh agreed to step down under diplomatic and military pressure from regional bloc ECOWAS. Jammeh 17 Jan declared state of emergency banning “acts of disobedience” to hold onto power. Election winner Adama Barrow inaugurated president 19 Jan at Gambian embassy in Senegalese capital Dakar. ECOWAS troops crossed from Senegal into Gambia night of 19 Jan but halted advance to allow chance for mediated solution. Presidents of Guinea and Mauritania arrived in capital Banjul 20 Jan and secured Jammeh’s resignation. Jammeh went into exile in Equatorial Guinea via Guinea 21 Jan. Troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Mali secured Banjul and other towns 22 Jan; ECOWAS said pro-Jammeh forces and mercenaries opened fire but were neutralised. President Barrow’s advisor 22 Jan said Jammeh embezzled over $11mn from banks in previous two weeks. Parliament revoked state of emergency 24 Jan. Barrow returned to Gambia 26 Jan.
President Jammeh 20 Dec refused to step down after losing 1 Dec presidential vote to Adama Barrow. Jammeh initially conceded defeat after electoral commission said Barrow won with 43.3% of vote to his 39.6%, but ruling party 13 Dec filed petition to challenge results in Supreme Court, due for review 10 Jan. Security forces 13 Dec blocked access to electoral commission. Presidents of Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana representing ECOWAS regional bloc visited country 13 Dec, failed to persuade Jammeh to accept results; ECOWAS 17 Dec appointed Nigerian and Ghanaian presidents as mediators, 22 Dec said standby forces “on alert”; Jammeh 31 Dec said ECOWAS deployment would be “declaration of war” and called for new vote. UN 14 Dec said Jammeh must leave office at end of mandate 19 Jan.
Govt crackdown on dissent continued: Tina Faal, opposition Gambia Democratic Progress party member, arrested 8 Aug. Solo Krummah, opposition United Democratic Party official detained since arrest in May, admitted to hospital 8 Aug under guard and died after operation 20 Aug, party said govt did not explain why he needed operation; Krummah second party member to die in custody since May; U.S. 22 Aug called for independent investigation.
President Jammeh 3 June reportedly accused Mandinka ethnic group, country’s largest, of leading April-May political protests, called group “enemies and foreigners” and threatened to “kill them one by one”. UN special adviser on genocide 10 June condemned remarks.
Govt repression continued. Police 9 May fired at and arrested protesters in Banjul demanding release of opposition members and supporters detained since April demonstrations for electoral reform and free speech. Govt 15 May charged six protesters arrested 9 May with rioting and incitement of violence. UN 17 May asked govt to investigate death in custody of Solo Sandeng, head of youth wing of opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), arrested 14 April.
Security forces 14 April broke up peaceful demonstration calling for electoral reform and free speech in Serrekunda near Banjul, arrested at least 50 protestors including main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) official Solo Sandeng. Following UDP accusations that security forces had tortured to death Sandeng, they arrested senior UDP members 16 April including party leader Ousainou Darboe and supporters; UN and U.S. 17 April condemned crackdown. High Court 20 April charged 37 people involved in protests, including eighteen for unlawful assembly, rioting and incitement of violence.
Security clampdown and govt reshuffle followed late-Dec reported coup attempt. FM Neneh Macdouall-Gaye 7 Jan named nine men responsible, including former Presidential Guard Chief Lamin Sanneh. U.S. federal prosecutors 5 Jan charged former U.S. Army Sergeant Papa Faal and Gambian-American businessman Cherno Njie, 30 Jan charged Alagie Barrow with planning coup following FBI report detailing plan to overthrow govt, shipment of firearms purchased in U.S.. President Jammeh reportedly unilaterally suspended Trans-Gambian Bridge project 18 Jan, claiming bridge connecting to Senegal could facilitate cross-border insurrection.
Military foiled coup attempt by group of soldiers who attacked presidential palace in capital Banjul 30 Dec while President Jammeh was out of country. Three coup plotters reportedly killed, dozens of military personnel and civilians arrested and weapons cache found in aftermath. Jammeh 1 Jan said dissidents based in U.S., UK and Germany responsible.
President Jammeh secured 4th 5-year term in 24 Nov election with 72% of votes, extending 17-year rule. Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) rejected results; AU, Commonwealth observers hailed poll as transparent; ECOWAS declined to send observers, citing control of media, voter intimidation. 3 killed 22 Nov in Banjul clashes between Jammeh supporters and UDP demonstrators.
3 civilians sentenced 20 years prison for March 2006 plot to overthrow President Yahya Jammeh. Alleged mastermind, Colonel Ndure Cham, still at large.
President Jammeh won 22 September presidential poll with 67% of vote; stated intention to continue firm rule for another 3 decades. Opposition claimed election marred by voter intimidation.
5 arrested in March for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Jammeh escaped when vehicle transporting them to prison crashed. 17 suspects later charged with treason; case adjourned to 10 May.
Government said it thwarted coup plot by army. 28 arrested, including 15 officers, but supposed leader, former defence chief Ndure Cham, still at large. Intelligence and defence heads replaced and Independent newspaper editors arrested in “coup” aftermath.
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