DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS ONLY ECOWAS CAN WITHDRAW SENEGALESE FORCES FROM FOÑI

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Defence, Seringe Modou Njie, has informed the National Assembly that the decision to withdraw or redeploy Senegalese forces in Foñi depends on Ecowas heads of state. 

 He was responding to a question from the Kansala NAM Almami Gibba, who had asked whether the government has any intention to withdraw the Senegalese forces from Foñi.

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“This is a regional decision taken by heads of state of Ecowas – maybe that discussion can be taken up at the level of Ecowas. However, Ecomig is making some consultations currently and my ministry is also having discussions with the Ecomig forces in that regard,” he added.

According to the minister, there is no tangible evidence for him to say the Senegalese forces are causing any security threat to the people of Foñi.

The minister said he is expecting a report from the NAM for Foñi Kansala to be able to make a decision on the matter.

The NAM from Kansala then informed the minister that a petition had been delivered at his office on Wednesday.

However, Minister  Njie continued: “The Senegalese troops deployed in Foñi are part of the Ecomig forces deployed in the area under the mandate of Ecowas. The deployment is meant to provide security to the people in the general area and not to cause any security threats to the people. The Ecomig troops deployed in the area are also, as we have been informed, embarking on a lot of civi-military cooperation activities in Foñi including support to the Bwiam hospital and healthcare support to the communities in the satellite areas of their deployment which is intended to restore trust and confidence. My ministry is in touch with Ecomig high command to ensure that the forces deployed in the area provide security to the people and also ensure security is maintained”.

On whether the Senegalese forces are following an agreement reached between the two countries, Minister Njie said: “As far as I know, there is a status of mission agreement between Ecowas and the Gambia Government which was signed in 2020. However, I am not aware of any force agreement or status of mission agreement between the Gambia Government and the Senegalese government over the forces stationed in Foñi.”

On why majors Kebba Gibba, Karamba Jammeh, Lamin Manneh, Alieu Sowe, Captains Gibriel Jammeh, Abdou Badjie, Sulayman Jammeh, generals Musa Savage and Alieu Sowe were forcefully retired from the Gambia Armed Forces, Minister Njie said the officers were discharged from GAF under the instructions of the Commander-In-Chief.

Asked whether he is aware of a letter from Office of the President requesting details on why the officers were retired, Minister Njie said he is aware of the letter.

The minister said he has requested for GAF to provide him with the full details of the discharged officers.  He also made it clear that his ministry has “no plans to reinstate them because their discharge from the army rested with the powers of the Commander-in-Chief who has powers to discharge officers from the Gambia Armed Forces.”