Gambia: IGP Resigns Amid mounting pressure following civilian shootings by PIU Officers

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IGP Kinteh interview with Kerr Fatou upon tendering his resignation

The Inspector General of the Gambia Police Force (IGP) Landing Kinteh has resigned from his position with immediate effect amid mounting pressure following the killings of at least three civilian protesters in the village of Faraba Bantang. Mr. Kinteh’s resignation has reportedly been accepted by the President who expressed regret in the circumstances that led to this unfortunate departure of the police boss.

Kinteh’s  resignation came following protest and lost of civilian lives in a confrontation with the Police Intervention Unit in Faraba Bantang. The incident occurred on Monday June 18th when police used life bullets on angry civilian mob who were protesting against a business man’s mining in their community. The incident sparked widespread condemnation across the country and the International community. The outcry from many corners demanded the resignation of the IGP and the Interior Minister. Both the minister and the IGP in an initial interview blamed PIU officers for using deadly force. Both leaders distance themselves from the incident and denied ordering the officers to use life bullets.

The killings ignited immediate outrage among citizens who demanded that the president take immediate action to address the situation. In a rare TV appearance the President was forced to address the nation something he is very uncomfortable doing. He painstakingly expressed his regret in lost of lives, expressed his condolences to the victims and promised such incidents “will never again happen under my watch”. The president visited the victims at the country’s main teaching hospital to see for himself. Following his visit he immediately constituted a panel of independent citizens mandated to investigate what happened and report to him within 30 days. He promised the law will take it’s course upon credible findings of the panel.

The Gambian people are shocked on the lost of lives of civilian protesters the second incident since the new government took over power in January 2017. A similar incident occurred in Kanilai in June 2017 where a civilian – Haruna Jatta was also killed by paramilitary officers during a confrontation between supporters of the former President and the Military. An investigation was launched but no reports have been submitted since then and the status of the case is still unknown.

IGP Kinteh’s resignation has sparked a new level of political and intellectual discussion with many people praising the move as a courageous sign of leadership taking responsibility for an incident that happened under his watch. In an Interview with Kerr Fatou  Mr. Kinteh said by virtue of his responsibility as the commander of the PIU he is taking “full responsibility of the incident” and therefore stepping aside to allow the country to heal and move forward. Mr. Kinteh explained and cleared some allegations against him that he had a hand in arming the PIU or authorizing them to use life bullets against protesters. He made it clear that the PIU are the armed wing of the Police and therefore were armed when they were called upon for reinforcement. Asked whether he had any relationship with the businessman who he was allegedly protecting, Mr. Kinteh dismissed the allegation and said he has no relationship with Julakaye and only knew him within the last year or so.

Mr. Kinteh’s resignation without a doubt has set the bar high for public officials to take full responsibility of an incident that happened under their watch to the level of resignation from his position. This is a rare occurrence for public officials to resign over such a matter. Meanwhile, IGP Kinteh confirmed that four of the police officers who allegedly shot the civilians are under custody while investigations are taking place. Asked how those four were identified, Kinteh said upon examination of their weapons they were found to have discharged bullets during the incident. Kinteh hopes that with him out of the way, the country will have a fresh start and continue to heal which is badly needed. He underscored the challenges the police institution is facing in several fronts. More citizens are equally calling for the Interior minister to follow the IGP’S steps and resign as well. The interior minister had mentioned to journalists that he wasn’t resigning because he was not responsible for the incident. A new IGP is expected to be appointed by the President in the next coming days and weeks.

Story filed by Demba Baldeh Associate Editor

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