Gambian prosecutors have charged the former president of the Gambia Press Union with treason for attempting to overthrow the government of President Yahya Jammeh. Ndey Tapha Sosseh, who was the chief of the media body until his replacement last month, is currently living in exile in Mali. She will stand trial along with former communications minister Amadou Janneh, a US national, and others for “conspiring among themselves to carry out an enterprise with force with the intent to usurp the executive powers of the state,” according to the charges. Janneh, who appeared in court on Tuesday with three others after his arrest on June 7, denied the charges but was remanded in custody.
Like Janneh, Sosseh faces charges that “on or about the month of May 2011, she conspired with others to distribute T-shirts bearing ‘Coalition for Change The Gambia, End to Dictatorship Now’ with intent to usurp the executive powers of the state.” Jammeh is regularly criticised by human rights groups for ongoinghuman rights abuses, a crackdown on reporters and climate of fear. The 46-year-old has in the past booted two UN officials out of the country and threatened to kill those who attempted to “destabilise” the country by working with “so-called defenders of human rights.” Amnesty International, in a report to the United Nations in 2010, said a government crackdown on press freedom had seen about 29 journalists flee the country since 1994, more than half in the previous two years.
In December 2004 Deyda Hydara, the editor of independent newspaper The Point and Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent was gunned down by unidentified gunmen in his car. Six other journalists have been missing for years. Gambia will hold elections on November 24 and Jammeh has said his victory is “a foregone conclusion”. The country known as the “Smiling Coast” to the European tourists drawn to its palm-fringed beaches, celebrates 17 years since Jammeh took power in a bloodless coup on Friday.
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