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Gov’t urged to call emergency meeting with Ecowas, Senegal over clashes

Gov't urged to call emergency meeting with Ecowas, Senegal over clashes

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By Omar Bah

GMC leader Mai Fatty has called on the Gambia Government to summon Ecowas and Senegal to an emergency meeting to discuss Monday’s shooting between Ecomig troops and elements of the MFDC.

The West African troops in The Gambia, Ecomig has confirmed the death of at least two people, a Senegalese soldier and a suspected member of the separatist MFDC rebels in Southern Senegal, after a brief exchange of gunfire near the border in Foni.

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“An emergency security and defense meeting should be quickly convened between The Gambia, Senegal and Ecowas, to review and modify ECOMIQ operations in The Gambia, so as to respond to this present danger with the decisiveness it demands,” Fatty told The Standard.

The former Interior Minister described the clashes as “a new dangerous phase in cross-border security”.

“An armed incursion of this magnitude amounts to a declaration of war, and should be treated as such,” he said.

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This latest armed attack against The Gambia from organised criminal elements taking refuge in Senegal, Fatty added, “should be the last”.

“If we fail to act with a decisive sense of urgency, peace and stability may elude us, particularly along our southern frontier. They are testing our capabilities and our resolve,” he noted.

He said the country’s national security must be protected.

“The Gambia’s national security must not be compromised. We must respond with superior force. We are a small nation but resilient. We are capable of defending ourselves. I have faith in our citizens, and total confidence in the competence, preparedness and bravery of our men and women in uniform,” he added.

Fatty registered disappointment over the Defense Ministry’s “incomprehensibly mute on such a grave existential threat to our Nation”. “Whichever version may be accurate, it behooves our Defense and Security authorities to be transparent to the Nation, while sending a very clear and compelling message to the criminals never to dare set their filthy feet on Gambian soil again.”

Beyond that, Fatty added, The Gambia must now aggressively pursue armed bandits operating along our frontiers and defeat them.

“We must not allow them comfort, hiding places or the opportunity to consolidate. We must, as a matter of top national security priority, neutralize all threats emanating from across our borders, working closely with Border States and relevant institutions. No person or group must be permitted to violate our sovereignty. It must be understood that the entire Nation, and all able-bodied Gambians stand ready to defend our country, protect our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

He said the Gambia Armed Forces “need to believe that they are the bastion of our Sovereignty against external aggression of this nature, and the Nation shall be galvanized in support of any operations to secure peace, security and order”.

“Every inch of Gambian soil must be protected and defended. Government will be supported by the entire nation in ending cross border crimes and armed incursion into our territory,” he added.

Fatty said the existing defense and security agreement between The Gambia and Senegal is “a living instrument that legally empowers Gambian security and defense forces to enter into Senegalese territory in pursuit of armed criminals operating along our common frontiers”.

“We must now invoke it and use it. Further, in August 2017, I conducted a three-day official visit to Dakar as Minister of Interior and took along with me all of the Security Chiefs of the Ministry of Interior. During that visit, our two countries signed an MoU on a range of sensitive bilateral security issues, including management of border security. The Gambia should now invoke this MoU as well and use it,” he said.

He added: “Our Defence forces are prepared and willing, together with our internal security apparatus to act. They must be enabled, empowered and authorized.”

“Lastly, I wish to extend my condolences to The Gambia Government as hosts of the deceased ECOMIG troops, to the Government of Senegal and the families of the deceased soldiers. A grateful nation mourns.”

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