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Gambian Coup Suspects Confess on State TV


Several senior Gambian army officers appeared on state television to confess their part in an alleged attempt to overthrow President Yahya Jammeh.

Gambian authorities have arrested more than 20 men since President Yahya Jammeh's office announced the government had foiled a coup attempt. Most were army officers.

Now, less than a week after the initial announcement, six senior officers went on state television admitting they had been involved in the plot.

The army's former head of public relations, Captain Bunja Darboe read out what he said was a statement they had prepared for the event of a successful coup.

"The Gambia under Yahya Jammeh has witnessed economic and social degradation," he said. "The cost of living of an average Gambian has reached an alarming proportion. There cannot be any other alternative to salvage The Gambia."

Meanwhile, defense forces chief, Colonel Ndure Cham, is reported to have fled to neighboring Senegal. He is said to have led the confessed plotters.

A Gambian journalist in self-imposed exile in Senegal, who does not wish to be named, watched the two-hour broadcast.

He says both the government and the alleged plotters are trying to focus the blame on Colonel Cham.

"It is all very funny, because all of them were saying that they were misled by the then-chief of the armed forces, who is now on the run," he explained. "They also said that when the coup was mentioned to them, they were not sure [whether they wanted to go along with] it. But because they were being told by the head of the armed forces, they were obliged to carry orders."

The journalist says coup plot allegations are nothing new in Gambia under Mr. Jammeh's rule.

"There have been a number of coup plot allegations leveled against those members of the armed forces who are seen to be very strong, who have a strong following among Gambian officers or who are seen to be very critical of the status quo," he added.

President Jammeh came to power in a bloodless coup in 1994.