January 4, 2014 – Reported by the Advocate.com – President Yahya Jammeh has returned to Gambia unscathed by an attempted coup d’etat by disgruntled military personnel who tried to oust the famously homophobic president while he was out of the country, according to Agence Free Presse.
Having stopped in Chad after a trip to Dubai, Jammeh was reportedly shown the bodies of three people allegedly involved in the attempted takeover as soon as he arrived back in Banjul, Gambia’s capital.
“Anybody who plans to attack this country, be ready, because you are going to die,” said Jammeh, who took power by way of a coup in 1994. It isn’t unlike the president to threaten murder. He’s done it with LGBT people who he told just last May that, “If I find them, I will kill them.”
Dozens of military personnel and civilians have now been arrested, although the president claims that the participants in the attempted coup were all former military.
It was not immediately clear if or how the aftermath of the coup attempt may effect LGBT Gambians. However, a Dakar-based researcher familiar with the Gambian political landscape told AFP that Jammeh will use the attempted takeover of his government to further oppress his people.
“[There is] major risk of repression extending beyond the military figures involved in the coup attempt,” Gilles Yabi told AFP. “There are fears the regime could take advantage of the situation by blaming people who had nothing to do with it.”
Gambia imposed a jail-the-gays law last October and began arresting people in November. The formal enactment of the draconian law makes Gambia one the most brutal of 36 African countries that prescribe prison sentences for homosexuality.
Gambia is the fourth African nation to impose lifetime prison sentences for homosexuality. The others are Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zambia. Four African countries call for the execution of those “convicted” of being gay: Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, and Nigeria. There are only 12 African nations where homosexuality is not criminalized, and just one, South Africa, with marriage equality.