Additional information to Information request number 1709 regarding the coup d'Etat of July 1981. 2) Duration, number of people involved, whether the insurgents took control of any part of the country, military means at rebel's disposal, number of people arrested and charged, whether these people are still in the country and whether they are still opposed to the government. [GMB7547]

1) According to West Africa (28 March 1988), on 31 July 1981, a group of members of the National Revolutionary Council (NRC), "seized the radio station, detained a number of cabinet ministers and took over control of the Gambia Field Force depot at Bakau (Ibid 59). According to Legum (1982 B410) and Africa Confidential ( 19 August 1981), the coup attempt to overthrow the government of Sir Dawda Jawara, who at the time, happened to be in London attending the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles, was allegedly led by Kekoi Samba Sanyang. Jawara and his cabinet's prolonged stay in power (Africa Confidential 19 August 1981, 5), youth unemployment, price increases, the growing gap between the rich and the poor (Legum 1982 B412), corruption, tribalism and despotism (West Africa, 10 August 1981) were the reasons given for the coup attempt .

2) The NCR was reportedly in control for two hours during which they dissolved the National Assembly and suspended the constitution before their "vital communication links" were cut off by Senegalese paratroopers thus ending the NCR's hold on the government (Ibid). A report in West Africa (10 August 1981), mentions that the Revolutionary Council was composed of twelve men led by Kukli (spelt Kekoi in Africa Confidential) Sampa Sanyang, a civilian and not a "well-known opposition politician" (New African, October 1981). The other members of the NRC were: Demba Janneh, Kartong Farti, Junkun Saho, Simang Sanneh, Cambeng Barji, Husenu Jarwor, Momodu Sannenj, Demba Camara and Abai Songor (West Africa, 10 August 1981).

According to Africa Confidential there was no external involvement in the coup attempt. Officials from every political party including the ruling PPP reportedly supported the abortive coup. Legum (1982) corroborates this information claiming that there was no evidence of Soviet or Libyan involvement (B411). The monthly periodical New Africa, (October 1981) further corroborates this information alleging that members of other political parties opposed to Jawara's administration such as the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) and the National convention Party (NCP) also participated in the coup attempt. Additionally, "there were also a large number of discontented youths in the urban areas and an estimated half of the Field Force who either voluntarily or under duress, joined the rebellion (Legum , 1982 B411). The sources cited herein all report that the coup was suppressed with the help of Senegalese forces.

Information relating to the number of people killed or detained is contradictory. According to Legum (1982) 1000 persons were detained but Sanyang and nine other coup leaders managed to escape to Guinea Bissau. Seventeen people including members of the "Supreme Council" were reportedly condemned to death (Ibid). However, it is alleged in the periodical West Africa (18 August 1981), that 300 people had been killed in the fighting "according to unofficial sources" (Ibid), although an article in New African (October 1981) reports that 1000 persons reportedly died in the fighting while 700 persons were allegedly arrested and detained in connection with the rebellion. For further information about the coup, please refer to the attached articles which include an interview with Kekoi Sampa Sanyang, the man who masterminded the foiled coup attempt of July 1981 (West Africa, 28 March 1988).

Other than Sanyang, who reportedly lives in exile in Cuba (West Africa, 28 March 1988), information concerning the military means at the rebels' disposal, whether the rebels are still in the country and whether they are still opposed to the government is currently unavailable to the IRBDC in Ottawa.
Legum, Colin. "The Gambia" in Africa Contemporary Record: Annual Survey and Documents 1981-1982. New York and London: Africa Publishing Company, 1982.
"Gambia: Popular Plots", Africa Confidential, Vol. 22, No. 17,pp., 5-7, 19 August 1981.
"Restoring the Gambia", West Africa, 10 August 1981.
"Sanyang: Leader of a Revolution that Went Sour", New African, pp., 18-19, October 1981.
"The Gambia: I'll Go Back and Fight", West Africa, pp. 59-60, 28 March 1988.