By Gainako’s embedded Banjul correspondent
Persistent reports emanating from Banjul has it that Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh has unceremoniously fired his Interior minister Ousman Sonko one of his longest serving loyalists since he illegally seized power in 1994. He served as Inspector General of police and minister of Interior a couple of times. He was fired and reinstated a couple of times as Interior minister. Mr. Sonko is a long serving security official who has been in the army since 1988 according to his resume outlined on the State House website.
He has been known as the most brutal loyalist to Yahya Jammeh and has his finger prints almost on any case of enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings, torture and imprisonment of Gambian citizens. Mr. Sonko is one of Jammeh’s strongest pillars who had done everything to ensure that Jammeh stays in power. He allegedly orchestrated the killing of Almamo Manneh, the killing of the 40 Ghanaians, the killing of Deyda Hydara, the arrest and imprisonment of LangTombong Tamba, former IGP Essa Jesus Badgie and many other atrocities committed during Jammeh regime.
Mr. Sonko was also directly involved in the ordering of the killing of Journalist Deyda Hydara according to soldiers who were ordered to execute the assassination plan against Deyda Hydara. Ousman Sonko knows reportedly knows and carries Jammeh’s orders more than any other personnel in Jammeh’s regime. All the divide and alleged failed coups within the security forces were all allegedly masterminded by Ousman Sonko. Mr. Sonko has been replaced by Momodou A. Bah commonly known as M.A Bah. Mr. Bah was arrested and detained in the alleged failed coup orchestrated by former CDS Ndure Cham.
Mr. Sonko’s firing comes in the midst of heightened tension within Jammeh’s inner circles. There is alleged reports of disagreements and suspicion between Jammeh and his top generals. Reliable sources close to the State House indicated that Jammeh is facing intense pressure from the International community in holding his security personnel accountable for the killings of UDP youth leader Solo Sandeng and Solo Krumah. Jammeh is undoubtedly facing unprecedented challenges as he battles heavy handed political crack down on his political opponents. Jammeh faces elections for a 5th term this December.
Close sources familiar with the security apparatus in Banjul told Gainako that Yahya Jammeh cannot afford to fire Ousman Sonko and let him go free. That Mr. Sonko knows too much about Jammeh’s operations and is likely to either be arrested and sent to Mile II or redeployed to a more distant position to keep him away from the corridors of power. Jammeh like many dictators are quick to contain internal threats and the firing of Ousman Sonko would lead to heightened insecurity within Jammeh’s circle unless he is contained. Gainako is closely monitoring this developing situation and will update this story as more developments come through.