In a recent ruling by Gambia’s high court, a soldier has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in a foiled coup against President Adama Barrow’s administration in December 2022.
The soldier, Sanna Fadera, was found guilty of treason, while three other accused soldiers were acquitted of all charges.
This coup attempt was the latest in a series of such incidents in Gambia, a country that has faced political instability and power struggles.
The nation is still grappling with the legacy of over two decades under the authoritarian rule of former President Yahya Jammeh, characterized by alleged abuses and a repressive regime.
Jammeh, who seized power in 1994, managed to thwart multiple coup attempts during his rule before eventually losing an election to Adama Barrow in late 2016. Since then, Gambia has been striving to establish a stable and democratic government.
While seven individuals, including civilians and a police officer, were acquitted and released during the trial, Fadera, the alleged coup ringleader, faces a significant prison term. He maintains his innocence and has the opportunity to appeal the verdict within 30 days.
The case underscores the ongoing challenges and tensions within Gambia’s political landscape as it seeks to transition to a more stable and democratic future.
After Barrow entered government in 2016, a large number of senior commanders quit the army. He has a history of mistrusting the military, which is why Senegalese soldiers are in charge of his personal protection while soldiers from Nigeria and Ghana are in charge of guarding the main international airport and sea port, respectively.
He has become unpopular with many Gambians as a result, who believe that by depending on foreign troops, he has compromised the nation’s sovereignty.
In addition, Barrow lost support after he founded the National People’s Party (NPP) to run in the 2017 election, breaking away from the United Democratic Party (UDP), which had helped him win the presidency in 2016.
When he declared an alliance with Jammeh’s former party, which was perceived as an effort to increase his prospects of winning a second term, his popularity further declined.