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US denies plotting against Gambia leaders

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh speaks at the 68th United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2013
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh speaks at the 68th United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2013

The United States refuted Thursday what it said were "baseless accusations" that it was plotting against the government of the tiny west African nation of Gambia.

"We have seen and reject the baseless accusations made in recent statements by the government of the Gambia," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

"We have a longstanding relationship with the government and its people. Our desire and intention is to pursue healthy bilateral ties."

On Saturday, Gambia accused Washington and former colonial power Britain of leading "a shameless campaign of lying" against it.

A statement from the Gambian government said Britain and the United States had backed "so-called Gambians to set up organizations and media facilities to spread nothing but lies against The Gambia by making false, outrageous and unfounded statements about the state of human rights."

President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the country since 1994, is often pilloried for rights abuses and the muzzling of journalists.

Gambia stunned the 54-nation Commonwealth last week however, when it announced it was withdrawing from the body which it denounced as a "neo-colonial" institution.

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