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Friday, February 26, 2021

‘Gambians should protest to UN to demand withdrawal of Ecomig’

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By Omar Bah

The United Democratic Party administrative secretary, legal and human rights affairs, has called on Gambians to come out and protest to the United Nations to put pressure on Ecowas to withdraw the Ecomig troops in the country.

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At least four West African countries; Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo have agreed to send police units to The Gambia after the 2021 election as the regional bloc agreed to transform Ecomig into a police mission during their 58th ordinary session on Saturday where they also decided to extend the mandate of the regional troops in The Gambia.

But speaking in a Standard exclusive on the matter, Almamy Taal argued: “Ecowas should reconsider the decision and rescind it forthwith. Ecomig should leave The Gambia. They absolutely have no use in this country. It is really an affront to our sovereign rights and as a member of the United Nations. I think Gambians should come out and protest as clear as possible that this is not in the interest of The Gambia and it was not done in consultation with Gambians.”

“I don’t know what kind of foreign policy or economic policy is this but there is absolutely no need whatsoever to have an Ecomig presence in The Gambia at this material time or think about transforming it into a police mission. Based on what? Our institutions are so dysfunctional. Unbelievable. So what is the use of our army and police? People should tell us now. This country belongs to Gambians and if any government fails to serve the interest of the people, it is their right to change it,” he said. 

He said there were no consultations with the Gambian people when Ecowas was taking the decision.

“Why are they sabotaging Gambia’s democracy? They have not given any explanation in their communique why this action is taken. This is not a failed state. This is not a post conflict state. This is a functioning democracy where people have differences of opinions. This kind of behaviour from regional organisations like Ecowas is really a disgrace in this day and age,” Taal said.

The trained lawyer said the security sector reform that everybody was hoping will put the country in the safest place possible has been scoffed because of “all these distractions and lack of focus on institutional reforms.”

“What we are saying to everybody is that we must build an inclusive nation. It is not for one person to go and lobby or negotiate with Nigeria, Ghana or Senegal to bring about a situation that is going to create an unnecessary tension in the country,” he said.

A former director of investigation at the TRRC Alagie Barrow, however wrote: “Because we have not done what we were supposed to do with our security sector reform, we are forced to rely on outside forces for the security of our nation. Is this a palatable or ideal situation? I’d say no. But the palatable or ideal is not always grounded in reality. ECOMIG staying longer is not ideal, but I’m not convinced that it’s not necessary.

“Arguing that we don’t need ECOMIG because we are not a post-conflict nation illustrates a limited view of what is considered ‘conflict’. Experts have identified various stages of conflict and posit that conflict is not necessarily only actualized when two or more parties are already killing each other.”

 The leader of the Gambia Moral Congress, Mai Fatty said: “Extending ECOMIG to a Police Mission is an unnecessary, ill-advised and unwise decision. It is woefully unfortunate, against our national security interests and undermines our sovereignty. I am optimistic that the opportunity to implement such a defective decision next year, would be denied.”

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