EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Edward Singhateh, one-time Vice President, and Minister of Defence in the former military junta that toppled a thirty-year-old government of the Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) said he chose the exiled former President Yahya Jammeh to serve as chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC).
He said formation of the Council in July 1994, followed a heavy armed military procession from various barracks within the Kombo St. Mary’s Division to the country’s capital city, Banjul, leading to a takeover of the Statehouse.
“During a meeting [among] council members as to who [would] be head after we entered the statehouse and took over, I suggested Yahya Jammeh,” he said, noting that his proposal didn’t go down well with the rest of the council members.
Singateh said from this stage, Jammeh had the liberty to rule The Gambia until December, 2016 when he was forced to go into exile by the coalition led by Adama Barrow, upon the historic defeat on presidential polls.
“Sanna [a key junta member], I could see was not happy,” he said, and further accepted the suggestion that, that might have been the beginning of bad blood between Sanna and Jammeh and even with himself, Edward.
The former junta member, Sanna Sabally who had given testimony before the commission where he admitted to execution of more than ten officers and or soldiers who were alleged to have plotted a counter coup, was jailed for nine years by the military government that he helped to install.
Singateh said when Sadibou Hydara questioned his [Edward’s] take on Jammeh, he responded that it was based on Seniority. Singateh said in his testimony that Yahya Jammeh was approached for membership of the junta at the initial stages due to his experience and understanding of state guard protocols.
According to his narration, it was as though the arrival to the helm of affairs that had turned junta member Sanna Sabally into a soldier with questionable character. He described Sanna as a choice of leader prior to the coup, because he “has been the nicest person you could possibly meet.”
In the aftermath of the coup, he posited, “If he [Sanna] could threaten to kill security officers on information that has not been verified; that is frightening in the sense that somebody in such a temperament, is not safe to put in such a position of power.”
The first defence minister who said he was following constitution of the council explained that the junta had intention to continue a bloodless mean of managing affairs of the state and that whoever was acclimated to the use of the gun, was not a potential candidate to key positions.
However, of the junta member, Sanna Sabally was appointed as Vice Chairperson, Sadibou Hydara as Interior Minister, and Yankuba Touray as Minister of Local Government and Lands.