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Monday, June 17, 2024

Are foreign troops on Gambian territory staying for far too
long for their own good, undoing all the good they have done?

Are foreign troops on Gambian territory staying for far too long for their own good, undoing all the good they have done?

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The legality of the numerous and far from transparent bilateral agreements entered into with the Senegalese government is a relevant and important issue to examine. So far, with the exception of the Extradition Treaty, none of the agreements were ratified by the National Assembly as is mandated by section 79(1)(c) which of course renders the whole bunch of such far from transparent agreements wholly unlawful including that which permits Senegalese personnel to “fight against wood trafficking” from within Gambian territory.

On the facts, at least two of the respective bilateral agreements could be said to be ones which cede aspects of Gambian sovereignty to Senegal: – the agreement which is dubbed ‘hot pursuit’ which permits Senegalese authorities to treat Gambian territory as Senegalese territory when pursuing any suspect who subsequently enters into Gambian territory and the above mentioned bilateral agreement which in part, shifts the Senegalese Army / MFDC fighters’ frontline into The Gambia. For such agreements, there is an express constitutional prohibition unless they are subjected to a referendum. The respective constitutional provision being section 79(2)(a) states as follows:

“The Gambia shall not – enter into any engagement with any other country which causes it to lose its sovereignty without the matter first being put to a referendum and passed by such majority as may be prescribed by an Act of the National assembly”

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Clearly, on the facts, in addition to these far from transparent agreements constituting egregious breaches to the Constitution, neither of them is conducive to the public good.

Now, on the facts, it is established and supported with very firm legal authority that, ECOMIG’s continued presence in The Gambia is unlawful and constitutes a breach of the Constitution. The same is also established in the case of every single bilateral agreement entered into with the Senegalese government with the exception of the Extradition Treaty, which Treaty it is important to underline that Senegalese authorities repeatedly violate by apprehending and whisking away Gambian citizens from Gambian soil into Senegal, in complete disregard for the respective extradition process.

To be absolutely clear, the Gambia and Senegalese governments should of course cooperate and work with each other on issues of mutual interest to improve the welfare of their citizens. However, these must be pursued transparently, lawfully and with the consent of citizens, none of which characterises any of the bilateral collaborations between the two respective governments as we speak. It is this deficiency which forms the basis for the increasing worries of most Gambian citizens; the officialdom’s default setting of simply disparagingly dismissing rather than appropriately addressing these concerns is a grossly mistaken one.

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I am fairly conscious of the polarising nature of the subject, so the steadfast focus and strong emphasis and reliance on the objective facts rather than opinion is therefore deliberate. It is now for people to form their own conclusions, based on the facts as I have indeed formed my own, in firmly but reasonably holding that:

The instructions of the Constitution at section 79(1)(c) must be adhered to in  order to:

o          Address the undesirable legal status of Ecomig’s continued presence in The Gambia, the boundaries of its operational powers and the remit of its jurisdiction;

o          Halt the operationalisation of all unlawful bilateral agreements and table them before Parliament for ratification as is required by law.

In the case of the ‘hot pursuit’ agreement and that which in part, shifts the Casamance frontline into The Gambia, I am fairly confident that no reasonable cost / benefit analysis from the point of view of The Gambia’s interest will pass these as being in the interest of The Gambia. Nonetheless, the government must ensure that these bilateral agreements comply with the law and that means appropriately putting them to a referendum as mandated by section 79(2)(a) or in the alternative, simply do away with them.

On the ongoing and widely publicised MFDC / Senegalese government ‘infowars’, I am personally no more interested in commenting on these than I would wish to have Senegalese citizens interfere in internal Gambian political matters. I would however say this: – the venerable profile and platform being accorded to the MFDC leader in The Gambia is one development which I find deeply troubling, but such is an unintended consequence of an event much more damaging The Gambia government policy which precipitated the entire undesirable episode. In the interest of stability within our frontiers and the safety and security of our citizens, the Gambia government must very carefully reconsider the adverse consequences of being sucked into such an armed conflict.

So in essence, my position simply advocates an adherence to the law (the Constitution) and the safeguarding of the safety and security interests of Gambian citizens on sovereign Gambian territory both of which on the facts, the government of the Gambia unfortunately currently acts against.

Of course I do not expect everyone to agree with my position, and that is fair enough. However, it is nonetheless comprehensively laid out and so are the objective facts upon which I hold such position. The challenge now for those clinging onto the officialdom as the gospel truth (and in the process smearing and throwing out tropes and idle labels in the direction of anyone and everyone who with good reason refuses to swallow the poisonous line, crooked hook and corrosive sinker) is, for them to:

o          substantiate with authority, that Ecomig’s continued stay in The Gambia is supported under a legal mandate;

o          substantiate with authority that the respective bilateral agreements with the Senegalese government are legal;

o          show that it is in the interest of The Gambia to invite gun battles into its territory by allowing the Senegalese military to launch and retreat from attacks against the MFDC using Gambian territory; and

o          explain why the foreign policy interests of the Senegalese government should take precedence over the safety and security of Gambian citizens on Gambian soil and respect for our Constitution.

As is characteristic of every position I take on every issue, if the facts change or better facts emerge, I will have no hesitation at all in reassessing the confidence which I attribute to my current position. Until then, it remains my firmly held view that the position of the officialdom lacks credibility and is terribly hollow; although high on rhetoric, it is actually extremely low if not completely void of any believable factual substance whatsoever. About time this hugely important subject matter is engaged upon a foundation of facts rather than deception, tropes and idle labels. I am pretty sure that those indulged in these can do far much better.


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