Gambia: Exiled military general recruited foreign mercenaries into army

Gambia: Exiled military general recruited foreign mercenaries into army

A right-hand man to the Gambia’s former dictator is said to have hired private citizens and foreigners to commit human rights abuses in the West African nation’s military.

Lt. Gen. Saul Badjie presided over dozens of torture and killings for Jammeh, whose government had since 1994 committed crimes against the state, activists say.

‘‘These civilians, some of whom were not even Gambians, were fully armed with pistols anywhere they go in the country,” a military officer told local Foroyaa Newspaper.

“They were also answerable directly to former General Badjie. We do not consider them as soldiers because they do not dress in military uniform but in civilian clothes.”

Badjie fled the Gambia after Jammeh’s defeat in the polls. He has been named as the overseer of an opposition crackdown last year that left three people dead.

West African leaders were put on high alert that Jammeh had hired former Liberian and Ivorian mercenaries to help keep him in power after refusing to cede power to his rival, Adama Barrow.

Regional troops were deployed to depose him, forcing the military-backed strongman to flee to Equatorial Guinea with some of his most trusted aides, including Badjie.

Gambia’s new military chief, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh has vowed to launch reforms. Personnel of the Gambia’s army is to be vetted in hopes that those that were unscrupulously enlisted would be weeded out.

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