With Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh back on home soil after a reported coup attempt, a crackdown is underway on those suspected of involvement.
Jammeh was greeted in the streets of the capital Banjul on returning from abroad, a day after gunfire erupted around his palace in an apparent military takeover bid.
He inspected weapons said to have been seized by security forces and blamed dissidents backed by foreign powers for the attack, dismissing talk of a coup.
“Well it was not a coup. It was an attack by dissidents based in the US, Germany and UK. You know all these weapons, some of these things, some of the materials are US made that they have,” he said.
Jammeh’s security forces foiled a coup plot in March 2006 and Amnesty International said in the wake of that incident it feared some of the alleged coup plotters may have been executed without trial.
Jammeh himself took power in a coup 20 years ago. Since then, he has stifled dissent in the impoverished West African nation and has faced growing criticism from abroad over issues ranging from human rights to his claim that he can cure AIDS.
The European Union withdrew millions of euros in aid after Jammeh signed into law an act that could imprison homosexuals for life. The US government also recently removed Gambia from AGOA, its African duty-free trade partnership.