Kuwait denies providing 320 personal guards for Gambia president

Kuwait denies providing 320 personal guards for Gambia president
2 min read
25 May, 2016
Kuwait has denied West African media reports that it would provide - and foot the bill - for hundreds of bodyguards for Gambia's president after it became a 'Islamic state'.
The Gambian president [bottom right] announced his country had become an "Islamic state" [Anadolu]
Kuwait has denied a claim by a Gambian opposition newspaper that the country was sending out hundreds of troops to act as a personal guard for the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. 

Freedom newspaper alleged that Kuwait would provide 320 crack troops to act as bodyguards for the president, only for it to be swiftly rebutted by Kuwaiti officials.

"The report is not true and lacks credibility," Hamad al-Mashaan, assistant foreign minister for African affairs, told local media.

It follows a news report that alleged a man wearing a red beret photographed behind the president was a Kuwaiti bodyguard.

Media in the West African country reported that Kuwait had agreed to provide presidential guards for Jammeh after a visit by the Gambian president's wife to Kuwait in April.

The Kuwaiti troops would be tasked solely with providing security to the president and his family, and would report to no one else but Jammeh.

The bodyguards would be housed in a special zone in the coastal town of Bakau, Freedom newspaper reported.

Housing and living expenses would be the only costs shouldered by the West African state with wages and other costs passed on to Kuwait, the newspaper claimed.

"This is one of many benefits Jammeh is expecting to gain from the Arab League of nations for making the Gambia an Islamic state," the report, attributed to An Insider, alleged.

Gambia's president declared the country an "Islamic state" last December, during a speech to supporters. These comments were later broadcast and published in official media.

"Gambia's destiny is in the hands of the Almighty Allah. As from today, Gambia is an Islamic state. We will be an Islamic state that will respect the rights of the citizens," Jammeh said.

The president has tried to shape a public image of himself as a devout and practicing Muslim.

However, Jammah insisted that Gambia's new status as an Islamic state will not interfere with people's lives.

"I have not appointed anyone as an Islamic policeman. The way women dress is not your business," he said.