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Thursday, 23 August, 2001, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Gambia kicks out British diplomat
Supporters of Gambia's new coalition at launch
Attendance at this rally may have courted anger
The Gambian Government has expelled a senior British diplomat following his attendance at an opposition coalition rally.

A senior official in the Gambian Foreign Affairs Ministry said the Deputy High Commissioner, Bharat Joshi, had been asked to leave the country because his presence was considered harmful to Gambia's national interests.

The British Foreign Office says it will be seeking an explanation from the Gambian High Commissioner to London as it was sure Mr Joshi had done nothing wrong.

A BBC correspondent in Banjul says although the order did not state the reason for the expulsion, the Gambian Govenrment has become increasingly concerned with what it sees as "political interference in its affairs".

Political tension

Last month the authorities summoned some western diplomats in Banjul and accused them of being in the process of sponsoring a newspaper to undermine and discredit it.

Gambia's President Yayha Jammeh
Jammeh's government fears "political inteferance"

Political tensions have been rising in the former British colony as an alliance of political parties prepares to challenge President Yayha Jammeh in elections in October.

President Jammeh came to power in a military coup in 1994 but subsequently won later elections.

The civilian leader he overthrew in 1994, Sir Dawda Jawara, has said he will return from exile in the UK to support the oppposition challenge, following the lifting of the ban on political parties at the time of his overthrow.

The main opposition alliance candidate is Ousainou Darboe, a lawyer who challenged Mr Jammeh at the last election.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mark Doyle
"It's to do with the political temperature in the Gambia"
See also:

09 May 01 | Africa
Timeline: Gambia
11 Apr 00 | Africa
Protests at Gambia killings
18 Jan 00 | Africa
More soldiers arrested in Gambia
04 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Gambia
14 Aug 01 | Africa
Gambia opposition 'not divided'
18 Dec 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
George W's African adventure
21 Aug 01 | Africa
Gambia hit by pre-poll fever
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