Senegal Grants Asylum to Ousted Gambian President
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) _ Senegal has granted political asylum to the president of Gambia, who was overthrown by soldiers in a bloodless coup after 29 years as head of the West African nation.
A U.S. warship brought Dawda Jawara to Dakar late Sunday and the Senegalese government announced it was granting the deposed president and his family asylum ″for humanitarian reasons.″
Jawara’s two wives, other family members, and Gambia’s vice president and finance minister also were aboard the USS La Moure County. The group took up residence today at Senegal’s official guest residence. Jawara’s interior minister also escaped into Senegal.
The American vessel had been making a port call in Gambia on Friday when soldiers staged the coup, and Jawara took refuge on the ship. His attempt to negotiate with the mutineers failed.
Lt. Yayah Jammeh, 28, one of the coup leaders, was named Gambia’s new head of state. He said Sunday that a new government composed mainly of civilians known for ″moral integrity″ would be named soon.
Jawara, 70, became Gambia’s first prime minister when the country achieved independence from Britain in 1965 and was elected president in 1970.
He survived a 1981 coup in which 500 people died because of military intervention by Senegal, which completely surrounds Gambia, continental Africa’s smallest nation.
The coup was reportedly sparked by Gambian soldiers who complained they had not been paid for service in Liberia. The coup was achieved without bloodshed or violence, diplomats confirmed.
A largely Islamic nation on the west coast of Africa, Gambia is a narrow strip of land on each side of the river Gambia, never more than six miles wide. Its estimated population is less than 900,000.