President Lies About His Coup Role – Part II

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Edward  Contradicts Jammeh About His Role In 1994 Coup

Former Lt. Edward Singhateh

The former vice president of the ruling APRC government now a legal magistrate, Edward Singhatey has said that “there was a desperate need for a military takeover in 1994” in order to address the deplorable state of affairs of The Gambia.

However, in a sharp contrast to Jammeh’s version of events, which portrayed Jammeh as commander of the coupists; Edward explained at the time of their departure from Yundum military barracks and during the time of their planning of the military coup “nobody was assigned any position. Jammeh was not made chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council before we launched the military operation. And Sana Sabally was not made vice chairman at the time and I was not made minister of defence. These all happened after the military operation was successful. And then we saw the need to sit and chat the way forward for this country. That was when the distribution of positions came in.”.

The 43-year old award-winning sharpshooter whose mother is Scottish, made this statement during an exclusive interview with Malick Jones of GRTS aired on the eve of the 18 anniversary of the July 22 takeover. He said the change of government spawned unprecedented development including the construction of roads. “In fact, before 1994, there were only 15 to 20 percent of the main roads actually paved. But after 1994, you can see that has increased to almost about 80 to 90 percent nationwide. With regard to the media, you will not be sitting here if it were not for the 22 July 1994 takeover. The airport terminal building, the University of The Gambia and hospitals were all built. When we were reflecting on how much progress we had made after seven or eight years in power, it had been determined that we had built over 220 schools at the time.

“Just imagine in 1994, there were only three main hospitals, namely, Bansang, Royal Victoria and Ahmadiyya hospitals. Can you imagine a population of over 1.5 million people being served by only three hospitals? Every sector in this country has seen massive development over the past years. I can recall that it was very tense. I was 25 years old at the time of the takeover. Being a young officer and believing in the cause of not only myself but the cause of His Excellency, the President, Lieutenant Sana Sabally, late Sadibou Hydara and Yankuba Touray as well. We believed in our cause to a certain extent that sacrificing our lives was worth it. Despite the fact that we had the American naval war ship USS La Moure County off the coast actually in harbour at the Gambia Ports Authority at that time. And despite the fact that the plans to takeover the government had been leaked, we were determined to go ahead. We would have been arrested that Friday morning had we not moved. And despite all the risks involved, being patriotic Gambians and seeing the need for a radical change at that point in time made it all worth it. I guess we should definitely reflect and pay tribute to all of those who participated in the military operation at the time. It was unique in the sense that it was bloodless; it was a flawlessly conducted operation by military professionals who knew what they were doing. And it was not based on what was prevailing within the sub-region at the time with regard to Sierra Leone under the revolution that took place under the leadership of President [Valentine] Strasser. It was not one that we imitated President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana or President Sani Abacha of Nigeria at the time or President Thomas Sankara and later on Blaise Compaoré all of Burkina Faso.”

“This was a homegrown revolution with the need to give the Gambian people the development and rights that they deserved. Yes, it was unique but also we thank God that at the time we were planning [the coup] we had planned it not with the intention to have position or power. But with the intention to make change for the Gambian people. And this was manifested in the fact that before we left Yundum [military barracks] and during the time that we were planning the military operation nobody was assigned any position. Jammeh was not made chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council before we launched the military operation. And Sana Sabally was not made vice chairman at the time and I was not made minister of defence. These all happened after the military operation was successful. And then we saw the need to sit and chart the way forward for this country. That was when the distribution of positions came in. So you can see it was not motivated by position, power or wealth. It was purely motivated by the need to sacrifice our lives in the interest of the Gambian people and for the development of our beloved country.”

Pressed on the specific factors leading to the success of the coup operation, Mr Singhatey said: “My mother always used to tell me that whatever you are doing, do it with clean heart and with the utmost conviction. If you have good intentions, whatever you do with the best of your efforts, surely God will bless it. This is exactly what President Jammeh used to tell us when we were having our meetings in the planning phase of the military operation. He would say: ‘Look, we are young Gambians and we have promised the Gambian people that we will sacrifice our lives to protect them. And therefore, taking a step further by instituting this change would also be something if motivated by the right intention and with the professionalism and discipline that we had in the military, could be successful.’

“First of all, I would attribute it to a blessing from Almighty God.  If it were not for Him, it could have gone all wrong. Secondly, I believe that right from His Excellency to the last soldiers who participated, had clear and good intentions. And thirdly, it was executed not only with military precision but with discipline and professionalism that one would expect from a highly trained armed forces.

There was a need for change and there was no debate about that. And we thank God that the change came in the manner it did. It was a bloodless coup. We had a very successful transition from 1994 to 1996 to democracy. Since then we have seen development after development. And obviously we are going to see more. I envisaged a Gambia that would be a paradise not only in West Africa but within Africa as a whole. The only thing that we need as people is to come together and unite more and speak with one voice. And make sure we recognise whatever we do right or wrong, it is the country’s future generations that are going to pay for it. So if we do the right thing, our children’s children would reap the benefits. Like President Jammeh has said from the beginning, he wants to build a solid foundation upon which no one else would have any excuse but to build on further. And I believe The Gambia has a very bright future.”

This article is published courtesy of Standard News and GRTS


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