By Arret Jatta
The Gambia has faced significant security incursions in Foni which is next to the conflict-ridden Casamance which lies in Senegal. Following a series of deaths in which people were killed with drones and the MFDC Rebels clashed with Senegalese Security Forces, Gambians have urged their Parliamentarians to demand the withdrawal of ECOMIG Troops in the Foni Area.
This has seen Gambian Parliamentarians in the Foni Regions organise press conferences and bombard the Defence Minister with questions on the security situation facing The Gambia. ECOMIG Troops came into the Gambia back in January 2017 forcing former Head of State Yahya Jammeh out of the country after which he fled to Equatorial Guinea. Former President Jammeh hails from Kanilia a village in the Fonis and has been indicted by the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission for gross human rights violations orchestrated by his government from 1994 to 2016.
During the Second Ordinary Session of the 2023 Legislative Year held on Monday 5th June 2023, NAMs called for the removal of ECOMIG Forces from the Foni Region of the Gambia and the country generally.
Responding to NAMs demands Defence Minister Sering Modou Njie said he has no authority to ask ECOMIG forces to leave this country. “Having ECOMIG to leave this country, I continue to challenge Hon members that this is the decision of the ECOWAS Head of States and Government and not my Ministry. I have no authority, whatsoever to ask ECOMIG to leave”, he said.
A motion was tabled before the National Assembly on the agreement between the Gambia Government and Turkey on Military Cooperation. During the debate on the ratification of the agreement numerous Parliamentarians called for the withdrawal of ECOMIG Troops from the Gambia.
The NAM for Brikama North and the Minority leader, Hon. Alhagie S Darboe, argued that the Gambian Military should take charge of the Gambia’s security which he says should not be under the control of foreign forces.
“It’s good that we trained our military to be more professional and fully in charge. It’s high time we release ECOMIG soldiers and allow our own military to take control” said Minority leader Hon. Alagie S Darboe.
The NAM for Banjul South Hon Fatoumata Njai expressed disappointment that the government lacks trust in the country’s Military and is reluctant to effect the withdrawal process of ECOMIG forces in The Gambia.
She endorsed the “agreement with the government of Turkey” and stated that she hoped “after the training, the ECOMIG soldiers will leave this country and have our security in the hands of our citizens, and the security of our head of state in the hands of our countrymen. If our own head of state cannot trust our own security, then I don’t think he deserves to be our head of state”.