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Gambia accuses 8 soldiers of treason over coup attempt

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The Gambian government on Friday charged eight soldiers with treason in connection with an alleged coup attempt last month, a government spokesperson said in a statement.

The government on 21st December said it had thwarted a coup attempt the previous day, and detained some military personnel.

The eight members of The Gambia Armed Forces were also charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, the statement said.

All but one of the suspects were remanded in prison, with Warrant Officer Class Two Lamin Jadama still being sought.

“The Gambia Government declares (Jadama) a fugitive from justice and urges citizens and security agencies both within and outside the jurisdiction to report him to the nearest police or security post”, spokesman Ebrima Sankareh said in the statement.

On Tuesday, the government charged two civilians and a police officer with concealment of treason and conspiracy to commit a felony in relation to the alleged plot.

Opposition politician Momodou Sabally, a former minister of presidential affairs under ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh, was arrested and later released.

The West African nation last week set up an “investigative panel” to probe the alleged coup and gave it 30 days to report.

On Thursday, in the first details of the coup bid, national security adviser Abubakarr Suleiman Jeng said the plotters aimed to “arrest cabinet ministers and senior government officials to use them as hostages to prevent any foreign intervention.

“They also had plans to retire all senior military officers from the rank of major and above and restructure (the army)”, he told reporters in the capital, Banjul.

The Gambia is a fragile democracy, still scarred by a brutal 22-year dictatorship under Jammeh.

He was defeated in a presidential election in December 2016 by political newcomer Adama Barrow and fled to Equatorial Guinea but retains influence back home.

Barrow was re-elected in December 2021 for a second five-year term.

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