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HOT PURSUIT AGREEMENT WITH SENEGAL A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY

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Says Gambian diasporan security expert

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By Omar Bah

A seasoned Gambian security expert has described the hot pursuit agreement between The Gambia and Senegal as a threat to national security.

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Modou Lamin Faye, a US-based Gambian criminologist, specialising on law enforcement and national security crisis, said hot pursuit on land is a grey concept which has “no global legal basis”.

He said there is “no global legal authority” that would allow one nation to conduct incursions into another nation’s territory to pursue an opposing element on land because the act contravenes the sacrosanct sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation.

Faye argued that the controversial Hot Pursuit Agreement between The Gambia and Senegal is a contributing factor to the crisis in Foñi.

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He further explained that a treaty between countries is formally signed to serve the best interest of all parties involved in that agreement and not create chaos or cause a threat to national security.

“Before a agreement is formally signed, conditions should be put in place to make sure that none of the countries involved abuse the terms and conditions of the agreement. With all of those put into consideration, does the Gambia read the fine prints of an agreement before signing any document at all? Or did the Senegalese government use the 2016 lodgment of Barrow to lure the Gambia government into an agreement that better serves them for their own selfish agenda? If that’s the case, then that proves my security risk assessment points on the presence of Senegalese security officials in our state house and other sensitive government areas,” he stated.

He added that the Gambia government needs to get in the habit of showing people or countries that want to “do business or sign a agreement with us that our people, laws, and peace would not be compromised under any circumstances regardless of how much money or help they are willing to invest in our country”.

“Based on my security analysis and risk assessment of the ongoing issues in Foñi, there are suspicions that the Senegalese government is using the hot pursuit agreement to engage their enemy combatant in Casamance, Salif Sadio, which is a threat to the national security of the Gambia. This has gotten to the point where the Casamance rebel leader, Salif Sadio made a video that was circulating, warning the Gambia government not to interfere with the issues between Casamance and the Senegalese government.

“This is a serious threat to our national security and we should not allow the Senegalese government to use us as a pawn or for their own advantage and start a war with Casamance. We will however, respond to their aid if they get attacked by other countries or if Salif Sadio starts hitting areas outside of Casamance territory. This is how our relationship should be with Senegal and not them acting like just because they helped us during the 2016 impasse that we should succumb to their demands. The respect must be mutual if they want to continue working together simply as that,” he added.

He said the Barrow administration needs to understand and respect the fact that Foñi is part of the Gambia, and they are taxpayers as well.

“Therefore, they should not be punished or isolated for former president Yahya Jammeh’s crimes or be treated like they are part of Senegal. They should be protected like any other Gambian or residents living in the Gambia. If they are to be punished for Jammeh’s past crimes, then President Barrow should also be punished for making a deal with Jammeh’s party to gain more supporters especially after knowing what Jammeh did to the Gambian people,” he said.

Faye stressed that if the government “does not start respecting and protecting the people of Foñi from these Senegalese security forces, then they will be creating a recruiting tool for former president Jammeh to use or security vulnerabilities for an enemy to use Foñi as a point of entry for an attack”.

“There is a saying that, ‘don’t corner a rat’ which means that when you push people too far or give them no other option, they will fight back in some way. Senegalese security forces are not the only ones in the country, therefore, to end all this commotion and madness, they should be mobilized to other parts of the country and have other ECOMIG forces stationed in Foñi. This should not be a problem for them if they are genuinely in the Gambia to assist us without any hidden agenda,” he said.

Faye added that the hot pursuit aggreement signed by both Senegalese and Gambia governments should be changed to extradition agreement.

“With this agreement, the Senegalese government would have to put in a request, which would have to be approved by the Gambia government before they can just take any step to come into the Gambia to extradite anyone from the country. It is time to show other countries that we value and respect our citizens and we would do anything to protect them from any kind of abuse or injustice,” he stated.

He added: “President Barrow needs to understand that he is the leader of the Gambia and not just parts of the rural or urban areas. Barrow should further understand that he’s the leader for everyone in the Gambia regardless of their political views, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and color. In other words, Barrow should have self-awareness, gratitude, courage, respect, and empathy towards everyone in the Gambia (but still leave a room to not accept nonsense) if he wants to succeed in the leadership business.”

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