By Omar Bah
In the wake of Monday’s deadly clash between Ecomig forces and MFDC rebels affecting large communities in Foni near the Gambia-Senegal border, the Foni Agency for Rural Development (FARD), has issued a statement demanding the withdrawal of Senegalese Ecomig forces in the area and replaced with Gambian army.
FARD is a respected body embraced by many natives of Foni.
A statement signed by its secretary general Haruna Badjie reads: “We demand immediate review of the security posts in Foni and demilitarisation of the area, replacement of the Senegalese with Gambian security forces, immediate ban of all timber exports through the area, deployment of Gambia National Army around the border and the removal of the security checkpoint in Bwiam.”
FARD also argued that the presence of the Senegalese forces in the area has not given the natives any feeling of safety but rather makes them feel like objects of suspicion. “Our people suffer constant intimidation and harassment whilst our women suffer sexual exploitation and abuse. Furthermore, the ill-placed security checkpoint in Bwiam has caused several accidents; yet, there is continued indifference about it,” FARD added.
The ugly incident, the group added, has forced many to flee their homes for fear of losing their lives in a war that has nothing to do with them.
“The incident has us thinking in many directions. Are we people of a lesser god? Are we not sovereign citizens? Why are we treated differently and finally, why the continuous occupational forces in Foni?” the group quizzed.