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Africa

Gambia's army chief ready to accept his fate following ex-president Jammeh's departure

media General Badjie at a hotel in Banjul during a visit by West African leaders on 13 December. Photo: Seyllou/AFP

Gambia’s General Ousman Badjie is ready to work with recently sworn in President Adama Barrow, he told RFI shortly after Ex-President Yahya Jammeh flew out of Banjul on Saturday, but he is also equally ready to be replaced. Badjie denied that Senegalese troops ever crossed the Gambian border as part of the military intervention by regional bloc Ecowas and said the army shall remain united despite Jammeh’s departure.

“If he wants me to work with him, he will tell me, if he wants me to be replaced by somebody, it is well and good,” Badjie said, shortly after Jammeh boarded a jet and left the country. “It depends on the new president, our new commander-in-chief, as well as our new minister of defence.”

Badjie said there was no question that the military would “remain in one piece” and “forever be united”. Jammeh originally took power in the Gambia through a coup led by the military in 1994.

Q&A: General Ousman Badjie

The army chief denied that Senegalese troops entered the country as part of an initiative by the Ecowas regional bloc. “It’s a lie, Senegalese troops have never been in this country,” said Badjie. “If they entered, our neighbours, we are going to welcome them with water, ice, tea, coffee and ice cream, I swear to God.”

The general said military checkpoints had already been dismantled, pointing out that President Barrow in his inauguration speech had ordered soldiers to return to their barracks. However, on Saturday evening there remained military checkpoints in Banjul as well as military and police controls from the Senegalese border at Karang to the capital during the afternoon.

The army chief said the only remaining checkpoints were “protection for the ex-president” to make sure that he “drives safely”.

Badjie said he has known Jammeh for more than 25 years before he became president, saying that the former president had made a “mark” in the history of Gambia. “I can’t tell the feeling I have, whether I would call it very sorrowful,” Badjie said of Jammeh’s departure.

“I feel emotional seeing him leaving,” said the army chief, “the president has flown out now and we wish him good luck.”

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