Crisis-gripped Gambia bars seven foreign journalists

2017-01-17 21:33
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Dakar - Seven foreign journalists have been barred from entering The Gambia, where President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to quit days before the planned inauguration of his rival Adama Barrow, they said on Tuesday.

The journalists - four from Chinese CGTN television based in Nairobi, two Swedes from the photo agency Kontinent and a Senegalese AFP photographer - were refused entry on Monday evening.

Immigration officers turned them back saying they did not have accreditation, although they had applied in advance and were supposed to pick it up once in the country, according to the journalists.

The small west African country has been plunged into political turmoil since Jammeh disputed Barrow's December poll victory.

He is refusing to cede power, so long as a judge has not ruled on his legal challenge.

Barrow is in Senegal, where he plans to remain until the inauguration on Thursday.

By Tuesday afternoon, The Gambia's information ministry had not responded to multiple requests from AFP for clarification.

Information minister Sheriff Bojang was among government members either recently dismissed or who have announced their resignation, as Jammeh comes under intense international pressure to cede power to Barrow on January 19, at the end of his official mandate.

Bojang, who had held office for two years, was replaced last week by a lawmaker, Seedy Njie.

The seven journalists, who arrived on a flight from Dakar, were questioned by immigration officers after stating their profession on a police form, and sent back to Senegal some three hours later.

"There seems to have been a miscommunication between the ministry of information and the immigration guys," said one of the journalists, requesting anonymity.

"They said we didn't have our accreditation although we had applied for one" before travelling to the country, he added. "We were told to come and pay in person."

Another of the journalists said immigration officers said they had no information about them, so they could not enter the country. "We were not trying to sneak into the country."

Three Senegalese journalists were detained on January 10 in Banjul, where they were covering a hearing of the Supreme Court, and expelled from the country.

Their media outlets said the reason given was a lack of accreditation, even though at least one had been accredited to cover the December 1 presidential poll, and had continued to work with the same document without any problems.

Read more on:    afp  |  sweden  |  china  |  gambia  |  senegal  |  west africa

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