Military authorities in Gambia arrested two of ex-strongman Yahya Jammeh’s generals after they returned unexpectedly from exile over the weekend, the army said in a statement on Monday.
Gambia’s current President Adama Barrow was sworn in a year ago as a West African regional intervention force closed in on the capital Banjul forcing Jammeh, who had refused to accept his defeat in elections, to flee to Equatorial Guinea.
Umpa Mendy, Jammeh’s principal protection officer, and the former head of the State Guards Battalion Ansumana Tamba had both accompanied the former leader into exile. But the army statement said they flew back into Gambia on Sunday.
“They were arrested at their respective homes … and are currently detained at the Yundum Military Barracks, where they are helping the military police with their investigations,” the statement said.
It did not say why the two men returned to Gambia or on what charges they had been arrested.
Barrow is still seeking to assert control following the end of 22 years of Jammeh’s authoritarian rule under which the military served as a key pillar of a regime notorious for jailing and torturing political opponents.
The new government has replaced or dismissed a number of senior military officers, some of them suspected of being members of a group called the Jungulars, which many Gambians say carried out killings on behalf of the government.
However, the army still contains many former supporters of Jammeh. Barrow’s allies have repeatedly warned of the possibility that exiled officers were working to undermine the new government from abroad.