Gambian president returns home as coup is foiled
Banjul (The Gambia), Dec 31: The Gambia’s President Yayha Jammeh returned to the country on Wednesday after a reported coup attempt on Tuesday.
On Tuesday BBC had quoted Yahya Jammeh as saying that an ex-army commander tried to take control of the country while he was visiting France.
The US on Wednesday denounced an attempted coup in Gambia, urging all parties in the West African country to refrain from more violence, the Leadership reported.
State Department spokesman, Jeffrey Rathke said in a brief statement in Washington.
“We strongly condemn any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means.
“We regret the loss of life and call on all parties to refrain from further violence,’’ Rathke said.
Heavy gunfire was heard near the presidential palace in Banjul on Tuesday but officials said the military takeover was thwarted.
Details remain sketchy but Mr Jammeh, 49, said there had been an attempted invasion from neighbouring country Senegal.
The Gambia has a population of 2 million people and it is surrounded by Senegal in three sides.
Jammeh seized power in the tiny West African nation in 1994, and is accused of not tolerating any opposition.
A pro-opposition radio station says most businesses are closed, while the market in the biggest town, Serekunda, is deserted, BBC reported.
The pro-opposition Freedom newspaper reports that four people were killed, including the alleged ringleader Lamin Sanneh, a former head of the presidential guards, but this has not been confirmed.
Jammeh has won several elections since seizing power but critics say they were neither free nor fair.
The Oslo Times