Following reports that Gambian security officials detained three refugees from Guinea Bissau, former army chief, elections chief, and ousted interior minister, President’s Jammeh’s office said “they are welcomed.”
In a short statement from State House in Banjul, the government confirmed that Fernando Gomes, former interior minister and Jose Zamore Induta, former chief of defence staff are have indeed sought refuge in the country.
“The Government of The Gambia welcomes them to stay in the country, since they are not criminals and are good citizens of ECOWAS,” a May 31 statement said, two days after the France-based news agency quoted a senior immigration official as saying the three were being “detained for security reasons.”
Gambia's immigration department spokesperson Ba Ensa Jawara told AFP the three, who were reported to have passed through Senegal's southern Casamance region, "arrived in the country early on Saturday morning and are currently being held".
Former army chief Jose Zamora Induta, elections commission chief Desejado Da Costa and Fernando Gomes, who was interior minister in the government overthrown in the country's latest coup last month, fled Guinea-Bissau last weekend.
They had earlier sought refuge in the European Union mission in Bissau following the April 12 coup, which aborted a presidential election ahead of a second round of voting.
Former army chief, Induta was ousted in 2010 by General Antonio Indjai, the man considered to be behind the latest coup in that country.
With the backing of the sub-regional grouping, ECOWAS, transitional authorities formed a new government a fourthnight ago. A regional peace force has also started deploying in the country in an attempt to help the transitional authorities stabilise it and organise elections in a year.
By Modou S. Joof
Follow on Facebook: The-North-Bank-Evening-Standard