Gambian Olympic President sentenced to death

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

August 18 - Gambia's leading Olympic official, Langtombong Tamba, is to be replaced after being sentenced to death following his conviction for treason, conspiracy to murder and participating in an act to overthrow the democratically elected Government.

Tamba, the President of the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC), was given the penalty - along with six others - after being found guilty of trying to stage a coup in 2006 to overthrow the country's leader, President Yahya Jammeh.

Tamba, the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), and six others are now on death row having being convicted of procuring arms and ammunition, equipment and mercenaries to stage the coup.

"After going through the evidence of the prosecution and the defence, I find all the persons guilty and accordingly sentence them to death on all three counts," Judge Emmanuel Amadi said when handing down the sentence.

Tamba denies the allegations and is now appealing.

But the Gambia Olympic Committee have now called an extraordinary congress for later this year to elect a new President to replace Tamba, who is also the vice-chairman of the Gambia Football Association.

They are also planning to elect a new secretary general to replace Omar Njie Barrow, who stood down last month.

Tamba was elected as the President of the GNOC in April 2009, replacing Alhaji Abou Dande Njie after he was the only candidate to stand.

He was arrested in November 2009 having been sacked as a Chief of the Defence a month earlier after allegedly being involved in a plot to embezzle $12 million (£7.7 million) from the Government.

In March 2006, following the coup, Tamba had been hailed as a hero for foiling it.

Jammeh himself seized power in a coup in 1994 and has since won three elections, amid opposition allegations of harassment.

His critics say his Government is using allegations of coup plots to intimidate potential rivals and settle scores.

The decision to hold new elections was taken by the GNOC earlier this week following a meeting of its Executive Committee.

The favourite to replace Tamba will be Beatrice Allen, the first vice-president, who has been leading the GNOC since Tamba's arrest.

Allen, who was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2006, is among Africa's most influential female sports administrators.

She is a member of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

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