Gambia’s coup plotters plead not guilty

Gambia’s coup plotters plead not guilty

A dozen soldiers that have been charged for a failed attempt to overthrow the Gambia’s new leader, Adama Barrow have pleaded not guilty to treason charges.

The plot came after the ouster of former strongman Yahya Jammeh, whose cousin is accused of leading the dissenting soldiers and helping two other sergeants escape arrest.

They have pleaded not guilty to all nine charges preferred against them by the court-martial. They are detained at a state penitentiary in the outskirts of the capital, Banjul.

Court documents say they “prepared or endeavored to overthrow the democratically elected government of The Gambia by unlawful means and thereby committed an offense.”

Jammeh had total control of the army and intelligence services during his decades-long rule of mainland Africa’s smallest nation. At least twelve coups against him have been foiled by his loyalists, many of which remain in the security services.

Gambia’s Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh and President Adama Barrow had dismissed reports of an armed opposition against the new government as exaggerated.

Barrow defeated Jammeh in the election last year but refused to step aside, prompting a regional military intervention. West African troops that helped depose Jammeh remain in The Gambia protecting Barrow, government properties, and senior officials.

Mr. Barrow broadened and extended their mandate following protests by Jammeh’s supporters. He made major changes in the military leadership, shuffling the top command at least twice.

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