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Africa

Threat against Gambia's President Barrow

media Barrow flanked by a Senegalese soldier during the legislative elections in April, 2017. Photo: Seyllou/AFP

The Gambian army has received intelligence about a possible threat to the life of President Adama Barrow. The threat is linked to army deserters who are thought to be close to former President Yahya Jammeh who left the country in January following elections that ended his 22 years in power.

“We believe that some of them are in neighbouring countries - Senegal and also Guinea Bissau,” said the Gambian army’s spokesman, Omar Bojang.

The possibility of Gambia being destabilised by elements based outside the country had already been raised by Mankeur Ndiaye, Senegal’s foreign affairs minister, during a recent press conference. He refused to give further details, but did confirm that the threat came from outside the country.

A confidential document published by Senegalese military intelligence and seen by RFI’s French language Africa service discusses the presence of army deserters, who were close to Jammeh, being present in Mauritania, Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Notably, it references the notorious paramilitary group known as the Jungulers who had been implicated in rights abuses during Jammeh’s rule.

The intelligence document, dated 27 June and titled, “Threats of destabilisation in the Gambia”, does indicate that the information has not yet been verified and cross-checked. However, confirmation by the Gambian armed forces does seem to indicate that the information has some weight.

“We have also received the same intelligence, we’ve received the same information,” Bojang told RFI by telephone on Wednesday, saying that the Gambian authorities have contacted both the governments of Senegal and France to share their reports.

“We understand that some members of the Gambia Armed Forces are outside the country and we’re monitoring their activities too,” said the Gambian military spokesperson, who played down the risk, describing it as “not a very big threat”.

Senegalese soldiers remain stationed in Gambia as part of a deployment by the Ecowas regional bloc. The troops were originally used to help compel former President Jammeh to leave power following the election of Barrow.

The mandate for the force was extended at the start of June for a period of 12 months. During a summit in Monrovia, Liberia the Ecowas force was described as playing a “crucial role” in keeping the country secure given the “fragile situation”.

President Barrow was in Addis Ababa this week attending his first African Union summit. “The situation is normal, nothing is going on in the country right now,” said army spokesman Bojang, when asked about the risk to Barrow on his return to Gambia.

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