Gambia coup attempt foiled – government

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The Gambia’s government says it has thwarted an attempt to stage a coup.

Four soldiers had been arrested and three alleged accomplices were on the run, a statement said.

It is unclear who exactly was behind Tuesday’s attempt to overthrow President Adama Barrow, who won a second term in elections last year.

The Gambia is a largely stable country in West Africa which is popular with holidaymakers because of its beaches and wildlife.

The capital, Banjul, is peaceful, with life going on as normal.

No gun shots have been heard, and there is no sign that loyalist forces have been deployed to secure strategic sites.

The government statement, however, said that military reservists had been put on stand-by.

“The situation is under total control,” it added.

When reports of a coup attempt first surfaced on Tuesday, the army denied it, saying it had only carried out a “military drill”.

Mr Barrow defeated long-serving President Yahya Jammeh in a shock election victory in December 2016.

Mr Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea, though he remains an influential figure in The Gambia, one of Africa’s smallest countries.

Many senior officers left the army after Mr Barrow took office.

He has been distrustful of the military, with troops from neighbouring Senegal in charge of his personal security, while the main international airport and sea port are guarded by troops from Nigeria and Ghana respectively.

This has made him unpopular with many Gambians, who feel that he has undermined the country’s sovereignty by relying on foreign forces.

Mr Barrow also became unpopular after he broke away from the United Democratic Party (UDP), which propelled him to power in 2016, and formed the National People’s Party (NPP) to contest last year’s election.

His popularity plummeted further when he announced that he had formed an alliance with Mr Jammeh’s old party, in what was seen as an attempt to boost his chances of securing a second term.