Gambia: Former Minister Released After Alleged Coup

Momodou Sabally was arrested after Gambia’s government said it had thwarted a coup. He was minister under strongman Yahya Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years.

The Gambian government has released former minister Momodou Sabally, his lawyer said Friday.

The opposition politician was detained last week as the government announced it had thwarted a coup attempt.

Sabally was minister of presidential affairs under Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the Gambia from 1994 to 2016 and subsequently went into exile. Earlier this year, the current government opened investigations into crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Jammeh.

The former minister had appeared in a video suggesting President Adama Barrow, who came to power in 2017 and entered his second term in 2021, would be overthrown before the next local elections.

What did Sabally’s lawyer say?

“Sabally has been released,” the former minister’s lawyer told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency.

“He has not committed any offence, so keeping (him) in detention is unlawful and it is a violation of his fundamental human rights.”

“The police and the Ministry of Justice have created a bad precedent” by arresting Sabally, his lawyer stressed.

Sabally had made an application before the high court on Wednesday asking to overturn his detention, according to Gambia’s Foroyaa newspaper.

What was the alleged coup attempt?

On December 21, the government in Banjul said that it had foiled a coup attempt. Seven soldiers were arrested during the incident.

On Tuesday, the Gambia set up an “investigative panel” to probe the alleged coup. The panel is scheduled to report its findings in a month.

Last week, the government said it had not linked to the alleged coup attempt to Yahya Jammeh.

sdi/jcg (AFP, Lusa)

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