A Gambian soldier and two prison officers, whose names have not been released by the West African authorities are among two dozen people arrested in the wave of political unrest sparked by the defeat of former ruling party in the parliamentary polls.
The soldier is from the infantry battalion and stationed at the Fajara Barracks, in the coastal town of Bakau, 14 miles west of the capital, Banjul.
The police in Foni have arrested 24 supporters of the former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, who threw stones at the homes of those supporting the party that backs new leader, Adama Barrow.
Gambia’s military has for long backed Jammeh, until former military chief, Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie refused to deploy his men to fight West African troops that were advancing towards the capital to depose Jammeh.
Jammeh’s loyalist in the military had repelled at least a dozen coups and stand accused of human rights violation, including torture and many killings.
The military’s tainted record and inaction, for the most part, is responsible for the deployment of the regional troops, which is now implementing President Barrow’s reform agenda and vetting the credentials of personnel.
Jammeh has been accused of mostly employing his tribesmen in the army and prison services. He has jailed his perceived political enemies in one of the world’s deadliest prisons in the outskirts of the capital.
Rights activists say prison conditions are inhumane and Gambia’s new government released hundreds of prisoners, most of whom reported torture, and cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of guards.
The UDP, most of whose members were political detainees, emerged from decades of opposition politics to winning a majority in the parliament on Friday. Three of its supporters in Foni suffered serious injuries because of the assault by supporters of the APRC.
The APRC won all the seats in the Foni region, which is now an opposition stronghold. Opposition supporters there had assault charges against them dropped in February for throwing stones at Barrow supporters that were returning from his inauguration.