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Fear and loathing in Gambia

March 18, 2010

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is either lucky or paranoid. After all, it isn’t often that a head of state lifts the veil on the second plot to overthrow him in less than five years.
Jammeh at the United NationsThat’s what happened Thursday when Gambia’s Attorney General announced it was charging ten people, including some top military brass, of treason for planning a coup.
Their plan: traffic in drugs and use the proceeds to buy a shipload of guns, hire foreign mercenaries, and launch an attack on Banjul from nearby Guinea Bissau.
To be sure, stranger things have happened in West Africa.
But the impressive thing — if you take the government at its word — is that a similar plan to overthrow Jammeh was hatched and foiled in a flurry of arrests before, in 2006.
At the time, critics including human rights activists speculated that the coup plot was a self-serving fabrication, allowing Jammeh to consolidate power by purging the military of dissenters and cracking down on press freedoms.
“The whole world can go to hell. If I want to ban any newspaper, I will, with good reason,” he was quoted as saying after shutting down the leading independent newspaper for its coverage of the 2006 coup plot.
No one has suggested the latest coup plot was a fake, and evidence will be presented in Gambia’s High Court in Banjul in the comings weeks.
What will be the verdict for human rights and democracy?


Dear Sir Madam,
In your article on Nigeria, the reporter states that Muslim and Christian gangs are causing the violence.The fact is that almost all the violence is coming from the Muslim side. In the Jos area two weeks ago, over 500 Christian men women and children were slaughtered by gangs of Muslim extemists with no known reprisals from the Christian side. For an agency which is known for it’s unbiased and accurate reporting this mis-representation of the situation could be regarded, were it not for these tragic and horrific murders, as sloppy–as it is, it borders on the criminally negligent.

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