January 5, 2017 at 8:09 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
LGBT community accused of plotting coup against Gambian president

International LGBT news

Vehemently anti-gay Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has rejected the results of last month’s presidential elections in which he lost to an opposition candidate (White House photo public domain)

A Gambian newspaper on Thursday accused members of the LGBT community of plotting a coup against President Yahya Jammeh.

The Daily Observer, which a human rights activist described to the Washington Blade as a “state-run propaganda outlet,” wrote in an editorial that Jammeh has “defied the LBGT Lobby who is allied with the Oil and Gas Lobby in an endeavor to undertake a Regime Change Coup in the Gambia.”

Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow, an independent candidate who represented the United Democratic Party, a coalition of eight opposition parties, in his country’s presidential elections that took place on Dec. 1.

Jammeh initially said he would not challenge the results. He announced on Dec. 9 that he would not accept them, citing what he described as voting irregularities.

The U.N., the White House and the African Union have all criticized Jammeh for rejecting the election results.

West African heads of state who attended a summit of the Economic Community of West African States that took place last month in the Nigerian capital of Abuja said they plan to attend Barrow’s inauguration on Jan. 19. The Associated Press reported ECOWAS President Marcel de Souza said the group would consider military intervention to enforce the Gambian election results.

The Associated Press this week reported Alieu Momarr Njai, chair of Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission that certified the election results, has fled the country.

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a Washington-based group that worked with Barrow and the United Democratic Party ahead of the election, on Thursday described Jammeh’s claims as “underhanded, baseless and totally absurd.”

“If anything, they have helped to put on full display the growing weakness of the outgoing and utterly disgraced Jammeh government,” Smith told the Blade.

Jammeh uses gays as ‘scapegoats for his failures’

Jammeh came to power in the small West African country that borders Senegal during a 1994 coup.

The Gambia, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image public domain)

A report that Human Rights Watch published in 2015 notes Gambian police and officials with the country’s National Intelligence Agency “rounded up” dozens of people “on suspicion of their sexual orientation.” The arrests took place after Jammeh signed a law that sought to impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Jammeh in 2015 said he would slit the throats of gay Gambian men. He has described homosexuality as among the three “biggest threats to human existence” and claimed he can cure AIDS.

The Gambian government rescinded a scholarship that it had given to Jammeh’s nephew, Alagie Jammeh, to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, after he posted pro-LGBT messages to his Facebook page in 2014.

Alagie Jammeh received asylum in the U.S. last May.

“The absurdity of the claim that LGBT people are attempting to topple the government clearly shows the desperation that prevails among Yahya Jammeh and his unhinged inner circle,” Smith told the Blade. “When all else fails — and all else truly has failed for Jammeh — he blames the West and the gays, which have traditionally been easy scapegoats for his failures and missteps.”

Jammeh owns a $3.5 million mansion in Potomac, Md.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Hands off The Gambia. Gambians. With Trump on the rampage, the Republican minority set to throw us back to the Plantation and Planter Society Mentality, one would think you and your agents would be significantly concerned at home and not thousands of miles away. Africa First, Gambia First. Hands off Gambia.

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.
Washington Blade Newsletter

Signup!

Get our top stories emailed to you every Thursday and specials offers from our partners.