Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Gambia charges over 'plot to oust Jammeh'

Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh
President Yahya Jammeh has threatened to kill rights workers

A group of senior military officials and businessmen have been charged with trying to overthrow Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, the government says.

A Justice Ministry statement said the group had "conspired to stage a coup d'etat and overthrow the president".

Mr Jammeh himself came to power after a bloodless coup in 1994.

His critics recently expressed concern over a wave of arrests of senior officials - some of whom have been in jail for months without charge.

Gambian newspapers reported that the men are being accused of bringing in weapons and mercenaries to support their coup attempt.

The BBC's Tidiane Sy says it is not the first time that army officers have been accused of plotting against the president.

In 2006, another group of military men were accused of trying to overthrow his government, and Banjul accused Senegal of taking part in that plot.

In recent years, Mr Jammeh has publicly threatened to kill gay people and rights workers.

And last month the government expelled the envoy of the UN's children charity, Unicef.

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