“The government of The Gambia announces that based on intelligence, some soldiers of the Gambian Army were plotting to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Adama Barrow. The high command [of the Gambian Army] swiftly mounted a military operation yesterday and arrested four soldiers linked to the alleged coup attempt,” said Ebrima G. Sankareh, government spokesman and presidential adviser, in a statement published on social networks.
He added that the four soldiers were being questioned by military police and that three accomplices were being sought.
“The government urges citizens, residents and members of the diplomatic and consular corps to go about their business normally; the situation is fully under control and there is no need to panic,” he said.
No confirmation was obtained from any source other than the government statement. There were rare reports of soldiers moving around the presidential headquarters in the centre of the capital, Banjul, on Tuesday night, and rumours of the attempted coup circulated overnight.
In a separate statement on Wednesday evening, the Gambian police said they had questioned Momodou Sabally, a former minister of presidential affairs under the Jammeh regime, after a video was released suggesting that the president would be overthrown before the next local elections.
This event looks to be the latest coup attempt in West Africa since 2020, after two successful putsches in Mali and Burkina Faso and another in Guinea. West African leaders are concerned about the contagion effect of coups in the region.
At a summit in early December in Abuja, they decided to create a regional force to intervene not only against jihadism, but also in the event of a coup.
The surprise accession of Adama Barrow to the country’s presidency in January 2017 put an end to the autocratic reign of Yahya Jammeh, which lasted for two decades. Adama Barrow largely won a second term in December 2021 in a presidential election that marked the first open transition since the dictatorship ruled the former British colony.
However, Gambia’s international partners are pushing for major reforms to consolidate democracy. Yahya Jammeh, who is in exile, continues to exert a strong influence in the country.
Understand Africa's tomorrow... today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.View subscription options