Gambia foils alleged coup attempt, arrests four soldiers

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BANJUL, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Gambian authorities have foiled a military coup attempt and arrested four soldiers plotting to overthrow President Adama Barrow’s administration, the government said on Wednesday.

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The Gambian Armed Forces High Command arrested four soldiers linked to the alleged coup after a military operation on Tuesday, it said in a statement.

Coup attempts are not uncommon in the Gambia, a tiny West African country of 2.5 million almost entirely surrounded by Senegal, which is still reeling from over two decades under former president Yahya Jammeh marked by authoritarianism and alleged abuses.

Jammeh himself seized power in a coup in 1994 and foiled several attempts to overthrow him before he lost an election in late 2016 to Barrow.

His ouster was widely viewed as a boost for democracy, although there has been growing frustration with Barrow’s government for its failure to address poverty and rising living costs.

“Based on intelligence reports… some soldiers of the Gambian army were plotting to overthrow the democratically elected government,” the government said on Wednesday.

The army is in pursuit of three other alleged accomplices and investigations are ongoing, it added.

There were no details on whether the coup attempt was linked to the previous regime.

Eight ex-soldiers led by one of Jammeh’s former military aides plotted to overthrow Barrow the year after he came to power. They were sentenced to jail in 2019 on treason and conspiracy charges they denied.

Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by James Macharia Chege and Tomasz Janowski

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