Eight Gambian Soldiers Jailed Over Coup Plot

Gambian Authorities Ban Internet, International Calls During Election

 

A Gambian military court on Monday sentenced seven soldiers to nine years in jail for plotting to overthrow President Adama Barrow, and handed a three-year prison term to another.

The sentences relate to events in 2017 after the ouster of strongman Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the tiny West African country with an iron fist for 22 years.

The court in Yundum, about 25 kilometres from the capital Banjul, acquitted four other soldiers arrested along with the eight who got jail terms.

Tribunal head Colonel Salifu Bojang said two of the 12 soldiers accused had accepted plotting “how to arrest cabinet ministers, the Chief of Defence Staff and battalion commanders of the Gambia Armed Forces.”

He said the soldiers had also created a WhatsApp group where they planned an attack on the West African Military Force (ECOMIG) stationed in Gambia to help keep order.

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Gambia has set up a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to shed light on Jammeh’s brutal 22-year reign in the hope of providing justice and closure for victims.

It began its work last October, empowered with the right of investigation and recommendation for prosecution or reparations, but not to pass sentence.

Jammeh fended off several attempted coups during his long reign, including one in December 2014.

He is still a force to reckon with despite living in exile. Last week, he reacted to a recording put up on WhatsApp showing an incident in his native village of Kanilai on March 19 in which a local was injured by a Gambian soldier, saying the “problem will be dealt with”, without elaborating.

Jammeh is accused of spiriting away hundreds of millions of dollars while one estimate put it as high as one billion dollars.

AFP

President Buhari Receives New Ambassadors Of The Gambia, Congo

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday received the new ambassador of  The Gambia, H.E Amadou S.O Taal with his wife and the ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Nigeria, Mr Jacques Obindza at the State House on Thursday.

 

Chinese Factory Accused Of Polluting Gambia’s Coastline

Gambian Authorities Ban Internet, International Calls During ElectionGambia’s National Environmental Agency (NEA) has agreed to settle out of court with Chinese-owned Golden Lead fishmeal factory, which it had taken to court for pollution and flouting proper waste management regulations.

Golden Lead has to pay a bond of 25,000 US dollars, take immediate measures to treat its wastewater and pay for testing of already contaminated water.

When contacted by Reuters, the company’s owners declined to comment but had earlier denied dumping wastewater into the sea.

“They were supposed to have a waste treatment plant in the sea too on the factory itself. So that they treat their wastewater and then they apply for a discharge permit. So that we are able to conduct a water quality analyses test to ensure that we establish that the wastewater that they discharge into the waterbody is not going to cause any harm. But then, unfortunately, they did not do or they are yet to install that water treatment plant,” said Lamin Samateh, senior environmental inspector at the NEA

The dispute started in May when thousands of dead fish washed up on the beach in Gunjur, a small fishing town in the south-west of the country.

The water in the nearby lagoon in Bolong Fenyo Wildlife Reserve also turned red overnight.

Initially, environmentalists were up in arms because they thought effluent waste from Golden Lead’s factory had killed the fish but later found they had been dumped there by Gambian and Senegalese fishermen unable to sell their catch to the fishmeal makers.

NEA has fined some of the fishermen and has reached an agreement with the factory stopping them from making orders where they cannot guarantee purchase to the local fishermen.

Local fisherman, Omar says his colleagues had no choice.

“Yes, because the Chinese people call them and give them money and they cannot buy all. The fish, they are already dead, where you can… you will drop them. Because of this, all blame is these people. Because they are the people who call them to bring in more fish. They are the ones who request. So why you cannot buy all, if you cannot request all. Why you call all,” he said.

After a few days, the water regained most of its natural colour, but tests found it was still unsafe.

Badara Bajo from the Gunjur Environmental Protection and Development Group in Gambia (GEPADG) monitors the reserve.

He convinced the government to give it a protected status – a first in the country.

Bajo wants the Golden Lead factory shut down.

“Really, really mad and very much uncomfortable because we spent a lot of energy, lots of time for so many many years and to see that arriving at an endpoint within a second it is just devastating. It’s just driving us crazy,” said Bajo.

Golden Lead has also been ordered to remove the waste water pipes going to sea, cooperate on ecological assessment and pay for water testing and work on correcting the damage already done.

“What they could do now in the absence of a wastewater treatment plant is to make sure that all their waste water is collected to a wastewater treatment facility which is somewhere in Kotu, some several kilometres from their location. They were doing that, but along the way, I want to believe that the cost implication is not sustainable. So instead of asking for advice on the next course of action or to undertake some kind of financial expenses to implement certain strategies to make sure that their wastewater is treated before it’s discharged, they secretly connected a pipe that discharges wastewater from their plant into the ocean. And this was discovered by the local community. Who reported to us and then we took action,” said Samateh.

West Africa has some of the richest waters in the world, but fish stocks are being depleted as industrial trawlers, some operating illegally, comb the oceans from the seabed to the surface, environmental group Greenpeace says.

Chinese fishing operations especially have been accused of double standards, as China improves sustainability provisions in its own domestic legislation while continuing to defy laws in Africa.

Adama Barrow Sworn In As President In Banjul

Adama Barrow Sworn-In As Gambian PresidentAdama Barrow has been sworn as President in Banjul, the Gambia’s capital.

The occasion was witnessed by thousands of people at the independence stadium.

It is the second time Mr Barrow is taking the oath of office.

The first time was at a very low-key event at the country’s embassy in Senegal, January, after a lengthy power struggle with the former President, Yahya Jammeh.

Mr Barrow is the third president in the history of the Gambia, and the celebration is also marking 52 years of the country’s independence.

Jammeh had refused to accept election results but finally left after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of military intervention.

The former President eventually flew into exile, ending his 22 years in power.

200 Nigerian Air Force Men Return From Gambia

200 Nigerian Air Force Men Return From GambiaTwo hundred of the Nigerian Air Force personnel sent for peace keeping in Banjul, The Gambia, are back home, after what they called a successful campaign in the country.

The officers and men who arrived at about 6:30 on Thursday evening, were brought in an Air Force plane.

The troops were part of the ECOWAS military force sent to restore democracy in The Gambia.

Former President Yayah Jameh had refused to step down after losing an election to current President Adama Barrow.

The officers and airmen were received by Air Vice Marshal, James Gbum at the Air Force wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

ECOWAS decided to engage its military after the mediating team led by Nigerian leader, Muhammadu Buhari, could not convince President Jammeh to relinquish power to then president-elect of Gambia, Adama Barrow.

Mr Jammeh had earlier said he would accept the result of the election but changed his mind few days later, insisting that another election should be held.

Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Mr Mohammed Dan-Ali, explained that ECOWAS decided in a meeting to use its standby force in upholding the result of the presidential election held in December 2016, which produced Mr Adama Barrow as winner.

The Minister added that in line with the ECOWAS directive, the Nigerian military would deploy its assets to protect the people of The Gambia and maintain regional peace and security.

The mission was accomplished when Mr Adama Barrow was successfully sworn-in as President in neighbouring Senegal with Jammeh left with no other option than to leave few days after.

This paved the way for the return of Barrow as President, but the ECOWAS troops had to remain in the country ahead of the arrival of the elected President Adama Barrow.

ECOWAS said that it was retaining troops from Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana to secure the city for the next six days ahead of President Adama Barrow’s return.

ECOWAS Troops To Remain In Gambia

ECOWAS Troops To Remain In GambiaThe President of the ECOWAS commission, Marcel Alain De Souza says ECOWAS troops deployed for mission in The Gambia would remain in the country ahead of the arrival of the elected President Adama Barrow.

Briefing members of the diplomatic corps and commissioners from member countries, the President said that it has retained troops from Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana to secure the city for the next six days ahead of President Adama Barrow’s return.

The ECOWAS president appealed for financial support from international partners to conclude its mission successfully in The Gambia.

Responding to the allegation that the former president, Mr Yahaya Jameh took away 11.4 million dollar from the country’s treasury, ECOWAS promised to encourage and support any form of investigation.

ECOWAS says while it lends support to the present government in any investigative move on the former President Yahya Jammeh, it has not validated the joint declaration by the EU and AU to grant him presidential amnesty.

Niger Delta Crisis: British High Commissioner Advocates Political Solution, Commends FG

Niger Delta Crisis: British High Commissioner Advocates Political Solution, Commends FG The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has commended the Federal Government for its readiness to dialogue with the people of the Niger Delta, in seeking political, rather than military solutions to the problems in the region.

This was his position as he spoke on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, while analysing the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s recent visit to the Gbaramatu Kingdom, in Delta state.

“What I saw in that visit, is a Federal Government that is ready to engage with the people of the Delta, which is looking out for dialogue and political settlement as the way out.

“I think it is symptomatic of the willingness of the Federal Government, to engage and I hope that they continue with that.

“As I have said in the past, I do not believe that a military solution to what has happened in the Niger Delta is viable in any way – a political solution is what is necessary.

“For a political settlement to really take roots, there needs to be dialogue and discussion, maybe disagreement; but also agreement – we need to talk to each other and that’s why I was particularly encouraged by the visit of the Vice President.”

The Gambia

Meanwhile, Mr Arkwright, who was also speaking on the recent developments in the Gambian election, stated that the United Kingdom would give its full support in ensuring a peaceful transition of power in the west African nation.

The British High Commissioner, says the UK has recognized Adama Barrow as the new President of the Gambia.

Although he stated that the United Kingdom hopes to avoid any kind of military intervention, he explained that if it comes to that point, the UK would not hesitate to offer its full support.

“Just last night, the security council in New York agreed a resolution, supporting the new president, calling for the former president to stand down, saying that all political measures should be exhausted first, but recognising that a military intervention may be necessary.

“If that military intervention is necessary, it would have the full support of the United Kingdom; as we voted in favour of that resolution.

“We join all countries in hoping that a peaceful solution would be the actual outcome of this crisis.”

He then added that: “In line with the constitution and with respect to the views of the people of the Gambia, former President Jammeh, should now stand down to avoid any violence or bloodshed.

“We hope that these negotiations which are currently going on in Banjul would result in a peaceful outcome.

“It’s important for the new president to take up his office and to start to implement his programme because that’s what he was voted in to do.”

The British High Commissioner therefore reiterated the UK’s support for Barrow, while also appealing to the former president to stand down in order to ensure a peaceful transition.

Speaking on the withdrawal of the Gambia from the Common Wealth of Nations, Mr Arkwright described the common wealth as a family of nations and according to him, Jammeh left the family.

This, he said, did not come to him as a surprise because according to him, the former president had been “unpredictable” and he had made such pronouncements in the past.

He however stated that he is very pleased that the new President, Adama Barrow has promised to re-instate the nation in the common wealth.

“The fact that we now have a more stable government in place, with a president who has a much more responsible international view than his predecessor, gives hope that the Gambia would move back into the common wealth.

Furthermore, he commended the efforts of ECOWAS in trying to push Yayah Jammeh to relinquish power.

“It’s a very important role that ECOWAS has played in this crisis,” Arkwright said.

Gambia Talks Fail As President Refuses To Step Down

The Gambia’s President-elect,Gambia Talks Fail As President Refuses To Step Down Adama Barrow, has left the country after talks failed to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step down.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, alongside a delegation of West African officials, flew to Banjul to try to broker a deal, but Mr Jammeh would not relinquish power.

Mr Barrow is now heading to Mali, where he will meet West African leaders attending a summit there.

The former estate agent wants to resolve the transitional deadlock so he can be sworn in on January 19, when President Jammeh’s term ends.

Meanwhile, the African Union has said it will no longer recognise Mr Jammeh’s rule beyond that point.

While ECOWAS has voiced its commitment to seeking a peaceful solution to the impasse, it has also hinted of possible military action if Jammeh stays on beyond the end of his term next week.

Gambian Coalition Calls On Buhari To Resolve Political Logjam

Gambian Coalition Calls On Buhari To Resolve Political LogjamThe coalition of seven political parties that produced President-elect of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, earnestly looks up to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, to deploy his vast experience, alongside other African leaders, to resolve the political logjam in the tiny West African country.

This was revealed on Wednesday, in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina.

Speaking with the media during the high-level ECOWAS /AU/UN Joint Mission to The Gambia on Tuesday, Hamad Bah, one of the coalition members, declared:

“We need the experience of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in many ways. Like President Jammeh, he is a former military officer, so he knows how the military thinks, and would be able to talk to him appropriately.

“Again, President Buhari was in the opposition in Nigeria for about 12 years, before he won election in 2015. So, he also knows how the opposition thinks. He can feel what we feel. We are quite glad that President Buhari is here, it gives us a lot of hope.”

Gambian Coalition Calls On Buhari To Resolve Political LogjamThe high-level team, in series of meetings that lasted the whole of Tuesday, met with President Yahya Jammeh, twice, conferred with Barrow, consulted with security chiefs, members of the diplomatic community, leadership of the electoral commission, and many other interest groups.

The consensus was that President Jammeh needed to respect the result of the December 1 election, which he had earlier accepted and congratulated the winner, only to recant a week later, calling for fresh polls “to be conducted by a God-fearing electoral commission”.

Gambian Coalition Calls On Buhari To Resolve Political Logjam
Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Sierra Leonean President, Ernest Bai Koroma

The Joint ECOWAS-AU-UN team, made of President Buhari, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia (current Chairperson of ECOWAS), President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, outgoing President John Mahama of Ghana, and Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, (UN Special Representative for West Africa), encouraged Jammeh to reconsider his rejection of the election results citing “tallying errors” and his call for new elections.

Jammeh was also urged to hand over power “within constitutional deadlines, and in accordance with electoral laws of The Gambia”.

President Johnson-Sirleaf said discussions on The Gambian impasse would continue, as ECOWAS leaders meet in Abuja this Saturday.

Gambia’s Adama Barrow Says Win Heralds ‘New Hope’

Gambia's Adama Barrow Says Win Heralds 'New Hope'The Gambia’s president-elect, Adama Barrow says his shock win of the country’s general election heralds new hope for the country.

Incumbent leader, Yahya Jammeh, an authoritarian president who ruled for 22 years, has confirmed that he will step down.

51-year-old Mr Barrow, who has never held political office, won Thursday’s election with 45.5% of the vote.

Hundreds of Gambians took to the streets to celebrate one of the biggest election upsets West Africa has ever seen.

President Buhari Congratulates Gambian President-Elect, Adama Barrow

President Buhari Congratulates Gambian President-Elect, Adama BarrowPresident Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the President-elect of The Gambia, Mr Adama Barrow, on his victory in the country’s December 1 presidential election.

The Nigerian President also salutes the spirit of statesmanship displayed by the outgoing President of The Gambia, Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, by conceding defeat, noting that such uncommon gesture is crucial in calming fears of unrest in the West African nation.

While expressing delight at the gallantry shown by President Jammeh, President Buhari enjoined President-elect Barrow to be magnanimous in victory.

The Nigerian leader also commended Gambians for peacefully exercising their democratic right to freely choose their leader and called on all stakeholders to maintain the peace.

President Buhari said that he was looking forward to a smooth transition of power and working with the incoming President of The Gambia to deepen existing cordial relations between both countries.

The electoral commission head declared Mr Barrow president-elect on state television, with 45.5 per cent of the vote against Jammeh’s 36.7 per cent.

“Having received 263, 515 votes out of the total votes cast in the election, I hereby declare Adama Barrow newly elected to serve as president of the republic of the Gambia,” Alieu Momarr Njai said.

With Barrow’s victory, Gambian leader, Yahyah Jammeh, lost a bid for another term after having ruled the nation for 22 years and vowed to remain in the helm of affairs for “a billion years”.

Gambian Authorities Ban Internet, International Calls During Election

Gambian Authorities Ban Internet, International Calls During ElectionAuthorities of The Gambia, have banned internet and international phone calls, as President, Yahya Jammeh, contests for his fifth term in the West African state.

Officials have also banned demonstrations to prevent unrest after the elections.

Most of the main parties have united behind estate agent, Adama Barrow, to Challenge Mr Jammeh who has ruled the country since 1996 when he was first elected.

The Gambia has not experienced a Democratic transition of power since independence from the UK in 1965, as it has known only two presidents.

Meanwhile, President Jammeh has said he will rule for a billion years if Allah wills.

An unprecedented number of people turned up at opposition rallies ahead of the election, with its mostly young population now yearning for change.

Observers from the European Union (EU), and the West African Regional Bloc, ECOWAS, are not attending the vote, stating concerns about the fairness of the process.