By Alagie Manneh
The members of the proscribed group Operation 3 Years Jotna, have petitioned the AU, Ecowas, Senegalese and Nigerian governments demanding the immediate withdrawal of Senegalese and Ecomig troops from The Gambia.
In an elaborate petition letter signed by Dodou Kassa Jaata as chairman of Operation 3 Years Jotna, the group which has gained notoriety as President Barrow’s nemesis, said although Gambians are grateful for the intervention of Ecowas in ushering democratic change of government in 2016, the time has come for the regional forces to leave to preserve The Gambia’s full sovereignty.
The letter argued: “With the corruption and level of selective justice in The Gambia, we feel that Adama Barrow is delaying the removal of the Senegalese troops due to his personal interest. He does not trust the Gambian security forces… His mentor Macky Sall, president of Senegal, has guaranteed his protection in State House and inadvertently continues to manipulate him for the interest of Senegal.
Senegal has now gained the freedom of interfering in our politics and controlling key components of our economy including telecoms sector since the departure of Yahya Jammeh. Senegalese have openly participated in Adama Barrow’s political party, expressing their love for him, and the intention of registering their votes for him. No Gambian dear [sic] do this type of act in Senegal.
“We are deeply concerned with the growing trend that Senegalese security forces have more access in the State House of The Gambia, than The Gambia’s own security personnel. We fear to be controlled and dominated by Senegal in the long for run. The Gambia will then lose its sovereignty. We are worried that the continued presence of the Senegalese security forces will cause more trouble, as Gambians continue to be provoked by their presence and the government of Adama Barrow is not doing anything to give assurance to our citizens that our sovereignty will never be compromised.
“We the citizens of Gambia would like the process of Ecomig withdrawal as soon as possible to avoid clashes between the two countries. The Gambia and Senegal have been families ever since and have similarities in culture and dialects. We therefore do not want Adama Barrow to use the Ecomig, supported by his friends in Ecowas, for his political and personal ambitions. It is our view that this is not fair to the citizens of this country who suffered 22 years of dictatorship and are seemingly suffering the brunt of it as we tend to go down that slippery slope with the Barrow administration.”
Among a long list of grievances, the group claimed Senegalese Ecomig soldiers canvas for support for President Barrow; Senegalese military refuse to pay toll charges at the trans-Gambia bridge; Senegalese troops entered a Gambian village, shot, arrested remanded an innocent Gambian in Senegalese prison for a month before releasing him without compensation; in April 2020 almost 30 trucks loaded with Covid-19 food aid to Casamance from Dakar refused to pay the toll charges again resulting in another standoff, which led to the closure of the bridge for three hours; on May 21st 2020 an estimated 20 armed Senegalese troops in three armored personnel carrier vehicles who claimed to have lost their way entered the LRR border village of Omar Sarr a timber landing site and were forced to leave by local youths.
“These unacceptable interferences by Senegalese army into our country,” the group lamented, “could escalate civil unrest between the two nations.
The group told the EU delegation in The Gambia that they are aware that the EU is funding the Ecomig troops in the country.
While “Adama Barrow continues to delay a meaningful security reform and undermines his own citizens due to his political ambitions and obstructing the oxygen of democracy that the citizens fought for.”