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Senegal assures Junta “neutrality” in 1994 coup


The Senegalese Government under the leadership of former president Abdou Diouf has assured Yahya Jammeh and his collaborators that they will not intervene following the military takeover, Brigadier General Mamat Cham told the Truth Commission on Wednesday.

General Cham, the sixth Commission witness, was an Army Captain at the time of the 1994 coup and was made a minister by the AFPRC junta for a very brief period before he was arrested and incarcerated in Mile 2 for about 27 months.

As a senior officer, he said he was brought in by Jammeh and his collaborators to help guide them.

Cham said after they have received intel that Senegalese soldiers were amassing at the Gambian border, he reached out to the Senegalese ambassador in the country.

“I told him that the events of 1981 are still fresh in the minds of the Gambians and that there are over 300, 000 Senegalese in the country and in the event of an attack, we will not be able to protect them,” Cham said.

He said the Senegalese ambassador later communicated that information to Dakar and also agreed to meet with the soldiers.

Following their meeting, the ambassador gave them the telephone number of Abdou Diouf, the former Senegalese president, whom they called the following day.

“We were assured that Senegal was not intending to invade the Gambia… and that he told us he (Abdou Diouf) intends to work with us after the dust is settled…,” said Cham.

“… And we received understanding that he (Abdou Diouf) will remain neutral. Our worst fears of invention was allayed…”

I was guided by what was in the best interest of the country… There was some possibility to open communications between the military and Dawda Jawara.

Senegal has intervened militarily in Gambia to repeal the 1981 coup led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang. Following that coup which led to the death of several people, the two countries has formed a confederation which lasted for few months.

Meanwhile, Cham said the non-involvement of the Nigerian soldiers who were here in the coup has also left a vacuum in the command structure in the army.

At the time of the coup, there were a number of Nigerian soldiers in the country who were helping the Gambia build a professional army.

“There was a command vacuum when the Nigerians relinquish their command position…,” said Cham.

Cham said he was the one who coined the term “Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council” which referred to the soldiers during the transition.

Cham’s testimony borders on the army and command climate under the Nigerian Army Training Advisory Group (NATAG), his actions on the day of the coup in 1994, helping the AFPRC form a council and cabinet, his arrest, detention in Mile Two, torture, subsequent release and reinstatement in the army after the fall of the dictatorship.

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