Banjul – The plotters of an alleged coup foiled in the Gambia last week planned to take senior government figures hostage and radically restructure the army, authorities said on Thursday.
The government of the small West African country said on Wednesday it had thwarted a coup bid the previous day and some military personnel have been detained.
An investigative panel was set up this week to report on the alleged putsch attempt and given 30 days to report.
On Thursday, in a first revelation of 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 alleged conspirators were to launch the coup from a Banjul naval base with accomplices from military stationed across the country and use “media propaganda” to promote the takeover, he added.
ALSO READ | Gambia probes coup bid and arrests more soldiers
Jeng said the alleged plotters held “clandestine meetings” to organise the coup and that reports pointed to the suspected involvement of sponsors “from civilian collaborators” within and outside the Gambia.
West Africa has been shaken by a series of military takeovers since 2020, in Mali, Guinea and most recently in Burkina Faso, while the authorities in Guinea-Bissau said they thwarted an attempted coup this year.
The Gambia is a fragile democracy, still scarred by a brutal 22-year dictatorship under Yahya Jammeh.
He was defeated in a presidential election in December 2016 by political newcomer Adama Barrow and fled to Equatorial Guinea but retains clout back home.
Barrow was re-elected in December 2021 for a second five-year term.
Meanwhile a former minister under Jammeh, Momodou Sabally, has also been detained after appearing in a video in which he suggested Barrow would be overthrown before the next local elections.
The main opposition United Democratic Party, to which Sabally belongs, has demanded his immediate release.
Follow African Insider on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
For more African news, visit Africaninsider.com