Attempted coup leads to lockdown around capital in Gambia
Gambia, located on the northwestern coast of Africa and the smallest country on the continent, recently suffered an attempted coup. Anti-government forces tried to take over the capital and assume control of the country in late December, although Gambia's military managed to repel the belligerents and protect the area around the capital city of Banjul, according to Voice of America.
The threat of more violence has caused a general lockdown of the area, however. Residents of the city have been told to stay in their homes. A lack of official communications has also been a problem, as Voice of America reported that, based on interviews with local residents, very little information has been passed along through state run media organizations.
Along with the lockdown comes an absence of business operations and economic activity in the capital. Companies of all types were closed for the most part on Dec. 30, the day after the overnight coup attempt occurred. Additionally, government offices were shuttered on Tuesday. The presence of Gambian security forces throughout the area was one of the few indications that the country's current leadership was still in place. Businesses from outside the country that have relationships with companies inside the area were left in the dark as well. Personal and corporate travel to the city was also restricted, with security forces turning away people attempting to enter Banjul. However, the airport in the city is maintaining normal operations.
Businesses operating in the capital area experienced significant disruptions and faced legitimate threats to the safety of both their physical assets and employees. Organizations operating internationally need to have access to current, accurate and actionable information so they can make prudent decisions to ensure the continuity of operations as well as the safety of staff.
Information still lacking
The lack of information from state-run media and the limited access and power of independent news organizations inside and outside Gambia means there isn't a definitive timeline of events related to the coup. Bloomberg reported President Yahya Jammeh was said to be out of the country and therefore not present during the outbreak of violence. Reports from local residents confirmed that shots were fired in the area of the presidential palace, although the nature and composition of the group opposing the government was not initially clear.
Voice of America said that conflicting accounts of the action as a mutiny by some current members of Gambia's armed forces as well as an attempt by previously exiled military members to take control of the country were both given. Bloomberg provided an initial casualty count of four dead and four wounded, although this statistic is also preliminary.
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