The former vice chairman of the AFPRC military junta has justified the 1994 military takeover on the grounds that the army was in a deplorable state.

Edward Singhatey, 51, who held various portfolios during Jammeh’s 22-year rule, said Gambian soldiers under the command of Nigerian Training Group (NATAG) had terrible working conditions including being served rotten food.

Mr. Singhateh made the revelation during his testimony before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Wednesday.

“During NATAG the food was deteriorating … they would give us rotten food and it was a matter of routine. If the senior officers were not in the barracks then the soldiers would eat rotten foods,” he said.

“On an inspection to a barracks I saw a soldier down the road around the Atlantic Hotel dragging his AK47. when he arrived, I asked him what happened and he told me ‘we are all sick’. I said what are you doing at the beach and he said ‘we all have a diarrhoea’.”

The former soldier turned lawyer said the lack of development and poor infrastructure were some of the triggers for the July 22, 1994 coup.

“The deficit of infrastructure, definitely we knew that Gambians deserved better. There were not enough schools, hospitals and there were no medicines in the hospitals which continued down the line. There was no television and the only means of communication – Radio Gambia, the signal stopped at Brikama.”

He said the idea of coup was invented by him and it was launched by Sanna Sabally, adding that Yahya Jammeh, Yankuba Touray and others were invitees.

He said Gambian soldiers who returned home from peacekeeping in Liberia protested against unpaid allowances as they were unhappy with their poor working conditions and the operation orders of the Nigerian army.

On November 11 incident

Mr Singhatey told the commission “we were ordered to quash the coup and made sure no prisoner was left behind,” he told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, adding that “there was gunfire at the camp as it was taken.”

According to him, the November 11 coup plotters plan was to arrest the junta members and their families and execute them, adding that despite the junta members “meeting the soldiers to dispel the rumour at Yundum Barracks and appealed to them (the mutineers) to be bit patient.”

Meanwhile, Mr Singhatey is expected to continue his testimony on November 11 incident and death of Ousman Koro Ceesay on Thursday.

A group of junior military officers led by Lt Yahya Jammeh on July 22, 1994 seized power by overthrowing the Jawara government in a bloodless coup.

Reporting by Adama Barrow

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