18 January 2017

Gambia: Jammeh 'Imports Rebels'

Photo: IRIN
There are reports that former Liberian fighters are being recruited (file photo).

Mercenaries in Banjul from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Casamance, according to Gambian newspaper.

Following recent newspaper reports that alleged Liberian mercenaries, led by former President Charles Taylor's elite security commander Benjamin Yeaten, resurfaced in The Gambia, the Freedom newspaper has reported yet another recruitment of rebels by President Yahya Jammeh. Freedom newspaper is Gambia's premier online newspaper.

It has reported that Jammeh has assembled mercenaries from former war-ravaged West African nations--mainly from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and the Southern Province of Casamance in Senegal. This is the area of Senegal south of The Gambia including the Casamance River that has witnessed years of turmoil as rebels there are seeking for independence from Senegal. Both Liberia and Sierra Leone recorded bitter civil wars, with the Liberian conflict starting as an internal crisis from 1989, and lasting until 2003. The conflict eventually led to the involvement of the ECOWAS and the United Nations Mission to Liberia.

In Sierra Leone, the civil war began on March 23, 1991 by the Revolutionary United Front rebels, with support from the special forces of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

However, according to the latest edition of the Freedom newspaper, President Jammeh is currently housing rebels from Casamance and elsewhere across the West African sub-region in preparation for a possible military showdown with the proposed Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) force recently formed to help unseat him from power.

The decision follows Jammeh's refusal to respect the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people in electing Adama Barrow, a real estate developer, as the country's next President, the Freedom newspaper has said.

The rebels, according to the paper, have been deployed in various security facilities across the country, especially at the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) based in Kanifing. They have reportedly been issued with army uniforms, combat gears, and weapons to gear up for a possible showdown.

The paper alleges that General Saul Badjie, the Commander of the Republican Guards, and also a close confidant of Jammeh, yesterday distributed over 1,733 uniforms to the arriving rebels, whose presence are being treated as top secret in Banjul. Some of the rebels can barely speak, or write English, the paper reported, adding that they speak French and other local West African dialects different from the ones spoken in The Gambia.

Their mission is to help keep Jammeh in power and to also suppress any military intervention coming from ECOWAS, the paper said quoting highly placed sources.

A top security chief close to Jammeh told the Freedom newspaper that the President is determined to wage a war in the country before his inevitable fall.

"Jammeh is not going to vacate the presidency without bloodshed. All indications suggest that he is ready for war. The rebels are here. The end game for Jammeh is going to be bloody. He has nowhere to go. He wants to commit genocide before the end of his rule. General Saul Badjie distributed the uniforms to the arriving rebels. They are here," said our (Freedom newspaper) source at the State House.

Meanwhile, the paper reported that Jammeh has issued brand new cars to his team of assassins. Almost every 'Jungullar,' as they are called, has been issued with a new car, according to the paper.

In another development, a delegation of security chiefs headed by Interior Minister M.A. Bah is expected to leave Banjul on Thursday to tour the country. The delegation includes Inspector-General of Police, Yankuba Sonko; Deputy Inspector of Gerdamarie, Modou Sowe; Landing Bojang, Commissioner of police operations; and NIA DG Yankuba Badjie.

Jammeh has reportedly requested the security chiefs to prevail on the local chiefs and regional governors to encourage communities to attend Jammeh's "inauguration" scheduled for January 19.

Jammeh emerged as the loser of the December 1 presidential elections, but he is still determined to hijack Adama Barrow's electoral victory.

In a related development, the Jollof News yesterday reported that Nigeria has deployed its newest warship, the NNS Unity, to The Gambia ahead of a planned military intervention to enforce the outcome of last month's presidential election results.

The warship, which was constructed by the China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Limited (CSOIL), will play a vital role in helping a Senegal led force to topple the Gambian regime of Jammeh if he refuses to step down at the end of his term on January 18.

Mr. Jammeh, 51, who has governed The Gambia since July 1994, is refusing to relinquish power to opposition candidate Adama Barrow, the surprise winner of last month's election.

He has accused the country's electoral commission of rigging the election in favor of the opposition.

Jammeh's attempt to overturn the election result at the Supreme Court has been delayed, because of a shortage of judges, as most of the judges come from neighboring countries.

The regional group ECOWAS, which tried unsuccessfully to convince Mr. Jammeh to hand over power peacefully, has warned of serious consequences if Mr. Barrow is blocked from re-entering The Gambia.

Barrow is currently in Senegal and is due back in Banjul for the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow, Thursday.

And ahead of the ceremony, a Nigerian military source told the BBC's Monitoring Africa security correspondent Tomi Oladipo that the warship has left the commercial capital, Lagos, and is currently sailing off the coast.

Mr. Jammeh has described any military intervention as an act of aggression and has vowed to defend the territorial sovereignty of The Gambia.

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