Unless you are of course a loyal supporter of President Yahya Jammeh, no one else in the Gambia’s military is safe. Not even a soldier who was only deployed to one of Jammeh’s farm is safe from the tens of arrests going on.
As tension rise in the West African country, where the deadline for President Yahya Jammeh to step aside is looming, forces loyal to Jammeh wasted no time in arresting officers that they believe are supporting President-elect Adama Barrow.
Many that were arrested are foreign trained like Captain Baboucarr Bah, an explosive specialist trained in Turkey, Lt. Col. Seedy Joof, Lt. Col. Bohoreh Jaiteh, Col. Hena Sambou, Capt, Saikou Kuyateh, Lt. Col. Mai Touray, Major Yusupha Jammeh, Capt. Baboucarr Bah, Capt. Demba Baldeh; Warrant Officers Nfansu Fofana, Bangally Sangura, MB Sarr; Staff Sgt. Dodou Touray and Sgt. Kemo Manneh.
Jammeh wants to reassert his power with the swift arrests, detentions, and even some dismissals. The purge of those alleged to be supporting Mr. Barrow is far-wide and sweeping.
A trusted commander of President Yahya Jammeh had last week warned soldiers of the impending arrest. Lt. Gen. Saul Badjie, head of the Republican National Guard was quoted as saying this:
“We are aware of men, nit especially few officers who have either switched loyalties to the so-called president-elect or at least sympathize. We have a list of all these men and women.”
“We are giving you up to January 16 to declare where your loyalties truly lie or you will see what will happen because it will be over our dead bodies that Barrow gets inaugurated,” General Badjie said.
President Yahya Jammeh has been warned by the African Union that there will be serious consequences for any loss of life and would not be recognizing him as the Gambian leader.
Jammeh is using the authorized deployment of ECOMOG troops to carte blanche to do whatever he wants amid concerns the putsch has become a pretext for him to plunge the country into a civil war to consolidate power.
So many senior soldiers have been detained leaving the lower rank with no leadership. With expectations growing of heavy fighting in the capital, Banjul, many Gambians have fled the country or moved to remote villages.