By Edrissa Jallow
All Five Foni Lawmakers wrote a petition addressed to President Adama Barrow demanding the immediate withdrawal of ECOMIG (Senegalese Troops) from Foni on Sunday 4th December 2022.
It can be recalled that all Five Foni Lawmakers won their seat in Parliament for the first time as Independent Candidates, ousting Five Foni Parliamentarians from the former ruling party Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC).
The Five Parliamentarians contested on Independent tickets via the No to Alliance Movement after the APRC split into two when former President Yahya Jammeh rejected an Alliance with the current ruling party of President Adama Barrow, the National Peoples Party (NPP). Foni is the hometown of former President Jammeh.
Since ECOMIG Troops were invited to the country in early 2017 by President Barrow, forcing former President Jammeh into exile in Equatorial Guinea, the ECOMIG Forces have maintained a base in the Foni’s consisting mostly of Senegalese Troops. A number of incidents have occurred in the Foni region between citizens and ECOMIG Troops.
The Five elected lawmakers in the name of; Hon Almami Gibba of Foni Kansala, Hon pa Dembo Sanneh of Foni Bondali, Hon Amie Colley of Foni Berefet, Hon Bakary K Badjie of Foni Bintang Karanai and Hon Kebba Toumanding Sanneh of Foni Jarrol organized a joint press conference at Kampant Village in Foni Kansala.
Hon Toumanding Sanneh who serves as the Spokesperson of the Five Foni lawmakers informed the audience that the presser is aimed at uprooting the problems faced by Foni residents since the change of government in 2017. In his statement, he demanded that “enough is enough, we are ready now,” for government to come to their aid.
The letter read by the Secretary General of the Five Foni lawmakers, Hon Almami Gibba put forward the following demands listed below;
1. To immediately remove the 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.
2. To conduct a transparent inquiry into the death of Mr Haruna Jatta, the unlawful arrest and detention of Mr Modou Bojang (Alkalo) of Karor Village, Fabakary Bojang of Karor, CID officer Abdou Jammeh and the six hospitalized boys sustained from gun wounds as [a] result of drone shooting.
3. To close and remove the Senegalese at the Bwiam checkpoint with immediate effect and allow the women of Bwiam [to] have access to their rice fields and continue their farming activities uninterrupted.
4. To conduct an impartial investigation into the circumstances leading to the drone usage that killed Yankuba Badjie of Gifanga, and compensate him immediately.
5. To immediately publish the investigation report surrounding the death of Sherrifo Gobi Kujabi and Jankeh Bojang of foni.
6. To immediately publish the investigation report surrounding the life gunshots of one Ismaila Tamba of Kanilai, and
7. To immediately publish the investigation report surrounding the death of Mr. Haruna Jatta caused by the Senegalese troops in Kanilai during the protest and compensate his family immediately.
Our reporter asked the Secretary-General if “there is any time limit indicated for their [Foni MPs] demands to be met?”
In response, the Secretary-General explained that they have a two-month timeline for their demands to be met and will include “monitoring and follow-ups” to ensure their demands are met.
However, if the Government fails to fulfil the demands highlighted in the letter, “grave consequences and ripple effects” will arise “in the peace and security of the Gambia”.
Among the dignitaries who were in attendance at the event included the lawmaker for the National People’s Party (NPP), Hon Bakary Kora for Upper Fulladu West who clarifies that his appearance is as a concerned citizen and not as a lawmaker.
While Foni NAMs were addressing the President, Hon Kora seized the opportunity to share some words with the audience and party supporters in attendance. In doing so, he informed the audience that President Barrow “is a very good president” and assured them that there is high hope President Barrow will consider and review the demands highlighted above.
Party Militants in attendance did not take his assurances in good faith and demonstrated their disapproval of his message.
The Five Foni NAMs signed the letter and copied it to various institutions which include the ECOWAS Secretariat, the United Nations, the European Union representative of the Gambia, and others to name a few.