By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
A communique by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) disclosed that the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG) has extended its mandate for another year, until the end of 2023. The communique was published soon after President Adama Barrow and 11 other ECOWAS Heads of State flew into Abuja, Nigeria for the 62nd ECOWAS Ordinary Session of Heads of State which took place on 4th December 2022.
The Gambia’s first President and now late, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara was also awarded a post-humus award alongside three other persons. According to the citation: “H.E. Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara GCMG of The Gambia received posthumously the Honorary Award for Eminent Persons, for his leadership and immense contribution to the promotion and restoration of peace in the sub-region and in the world. It was during Sir Dawda Jawara’s tenure as Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government (1989-1990 and 1991-1992) that ECOMOG was established to restore peace in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s”.
Reacting to President Jawara’s award President Adama Barrow said it was “a good and proud day for The Gambia”.
ECOMIG Extension in The Gambia
The Communique revealed that the ECOWAS “Authority decides to extend the mandate of ECOMIG for a further year from 1st January 2023 and instructs the Commission to consider, within that period, a gradual downsizing of the Mission and commence the training and reorientation of The Gambia Defence and Security Forces to enable them to play their constitutionally assigned roles in a democratic dispensation”.
This means that the ECOWAS Authority is expecting a reduction in the number of ECOMIG Forces in 2023. ECOMIG were invited into the Gambia by current President Adama Barrow back in early 2017 soon after swearing into office in Senegal. Soon after ECOMIG arrived in the Gambia, former President Jammeh fled into exile to Equatorial Guinea.
ECOMIG Forces currently maintain a strong presence in the Foni Regions which is the hometown and Political stronghold of former President Jammeh and his party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC).
Earlier in December 2022, Five Foni National Assembly members (NAMs) raised concerns after numerous incidents in Foni involving ECOMIG Forces and the local communities. Two separate drone attacks resulting in the death of at least six people have intensified the urgency of the Security situation in Foni which borders Southern Senegal’s Casamance Region.
In response to the statement by the Five Foni NAMs, the Government published a statement on the 11th of December 2022 confirming the three deaths of Demba Colley, Alagie Kolley and Ebrima Colley all under the age of 24 while claiming that “all the deceased were non-Gambians” and that the incident occurred in Casamance and not the Gambia.
The press conference held on 4th December 2022 by Five Foni NAMs demanded the Government to “immediately remove Senegalese troops from the Foni regions, and in the alternative to replace Senegalese forces in all bases and checkpoints in the Foni with our very own Gambia Armed Forces personnel”.
The ECOWAS Communique also directs “the Gambian Government to diligently implement the Security Sector Reforms (SSR) and instructs the Commission to ensure that the ECOMIG Force composition reflects a balanced regional outlook comprising troops from the ECOWAs Member States beyond the current countries participating in the Mission”.