Failed Gambia Coup Casts a Spotlight on Jammeh’s Abusive Regime

Failed Gambia Coup Casts a Spotlight on Jammeh’s Abusive Regime
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh leaves a central Banjul polling station after casting his vote for president in Banjul, Gambia, Sept. 22, 2006 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Gambia yesterday accused the former head of the presidential guard of leading a small coup attempt that two U.S. citizens were also involved in. In an email interview, Jeffrey Smith, an advocacy officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, discussed Gambian politics and the recent attempted coup.

WPR: What is the nature of President Yahya Jammeh’s regime, and how strong is his support among the general public and military?

Jeffrey Smith: Yahya Jammeh is a retrograde dictator, one of the last remaining strongmen in power on the African continent. For West Africa, a region that has made tremendous progress both economically and socially over the past several years, Jammeh’s regime is no doubt a black eye. After ascending to the presidency by means of a military coup two decades ago, Jammeh has presided over a brutal regime in which torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and absolute disregard for human dignity are the norm. Jammeh’s support among the citizenry is weak at best. He primarily rules through fear and intimidation. There is also discontent within the military. It is rumored that senior military officials participated in the planning of the recent coup attempt, and several men have reportedly been arrested.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.