By Lamin Cham
Amid rising rate of violent crimes and concern over security in the run-up to the presidential election in December, a former Gambian soldier has urged the government to call a national security conference.
Abdoulie Sanyang, who served as an administrate clerk at the army headquarters between 1991 to 1997 told The Standard: “The government has waited too long to take tangible action with regard to security reform in the country instead of busying with bureaucratic and unnecessary meetings and conferences. What should have happened is to call a national security conference which should have worked on a swift practical plan.”
Asked what in his opinion the “swift practical plan” should have focused on, Sanyang listed: “Weed out those very much involved in human rights violations; retire with full benefits those who are surplus to the need of the army; and deploy others to pick up jobs at private security firms or business ventures. That way nobody would be angry and the nation would move ahead in cohesion and stability”.
Sanyang who also worked as a surveillance officer at the US Embassy in The Gambia before migrating to Switzerland where he currently lives, said the current state of insecurity in the country should be addressed before the presidential election in December “so that tension would not get out of hand”.
He said the period leading to the election will be the most volatile since the 2016-2017 political impasse and urged the government to put high premium on security.
“Ideally in our situation, there should not have been foreign troops in The Gambia five years after the change, but as things stand now especially going into this election, Ecomig could be a counter standby force against any potential threat to security,” Sanyang said.
“Barrow should not lose track of the aspirations of the Gambian people in voting him in 2016 which include changing the country from what it was under Jammeh. He must stop boasting that he was the one who killed the lion or taking personal credit for the change. So many people worked directly or indirectly for the destruction of Jammeh’s oppressive regime in many ways openly or secretly. For example, I had four NIA operatives in my payroll who regularly gave me information sensitive and central to how the regime was run. So the change is a collective effort,” he admonished.
Abdoulie Sanyang resigned from the army in 1997. he was implicated in the 2002 coup plot along with Dumo Sarho and Lalo Jaiteh and spent 18 months in NIA detention.
Read more about his interview, including his involvement in the 1994 counter-coup and the attempted coup of 2002 among other things in this week’s Bantaba.