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October 11, 2013

Gambian Diaspora Denies Involvement in Coup Plot

by James Butty

A Gambian Diaspora group says it is not involved in any plan to overthrow the government of President Yahya Jammeh. But the group said it wants to see change come to the Gambia.

This comes as the Gambian government this week accused the United States and Great Britain of sponsoring a series of plots to overthrow President Jammeh.

A State Department spokeswoman Thursday denied any US involvement or knowledge of any plot to remove Jammeh.

On Wednesday a group calling itself the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA) briefly took over the Gambian embassy in Washington, DC and three of its senior leaders were arrested and jailed by the Washington, DC Metropolitan police.

A judge released them Thursday on their own reconnaissance and told them to return to court on October 23.

Sossie Ceesay, a member of the Democratic Union of Gambian Activists said the group seized the embassy to intensify their advocacy for change in the Gambia.
                   
“We regard the Gambian Embassy as Gambian-owned and because the person at the helm of affairs in the Gambia has made it his duty to make life miserable for every Gambian, has threatened every Gambian in the Diaspora, we felt that we needed to stepped up our advocacy for change in the Gambia,” she said.
 
A State Department spokeswoman Thursday denied any US involvement or knowledge of any plot to remove President Jammeh. Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf described the accusations as baseless.

“We have seen and reject the baseless accusations made in recent statements by the government Gambia. We have a long standing relationship with the government and its people. Our desire and intention is to pursue health bilateral ties,” said Harf.

Ceesay describes the Gambian government’s allegations of a coup plot as delusional.

“These are statements of a delusional government and those enablers in that regime. We are not involved in overthrowing any regime. What we are engaged in is seeing change come to the Gambia,” Ceesay said.

She said Jammeh has made may promises in the 19 years that he has been leader of the Gambia, but none has been fulfilled.

“There is no transparency, there is no accountability; there is no freedom of the press. Press houses are torched to the ground; reporters are imprisoned. We can take the recent case of Ms. Fatu Camara. These people have done nothing to warrant their arrests,” Ceesay said.

Fatu Camara was until last August President Jammeh’s public relations chief. She was arrested last month after being accused of publishing false news “with intent to tarnish the image of the president”.

Gambian prosecutors on Thursday charged Camara with sedition for disseminating “false” news abot President Jammeh.

Ceesay said President Jammeh has tarnished his own image and that of the Gambia.

“It’s nothing new. It’s something that he has done and tried on several occasions on many other journalists. Somebody passing information to anybody doesn’t tarnish doesn’t tarnish Yahya Jammeh’s image. He has tarnished his image himself by making claims of being able to cure aids, and tuberculosis and epilepsy and all sort of things,” Ceesay said.
Butty interview with Ceesay