In my last Bantaba interview with Omar Wally for The Standard Newspaper, I said that ECOMIG should stay for at least ten (10) years or until the Security Sector Reform is successfully concluded.
I maintain the same stance today and understand the statement linked to the EU Ambassador to The Gambia on the question: who will pay the bills of an extended ECOMIG mission?
The answer from my perspective is simple: the EU, ECOWAS Member States, the African Union and other reliable friends of The Gambia should continue to pay the bills.
Then the costs of a premature or rushed withdrawal at this critical stage of our post-dictatorship transformation will be higher than keeping ECOMIG in our country.
Contemporary history and geopolitics teach us that the presence of regional allied forces can serve as peace guarantee especially in countries that are facing open and subtle resistance to reforms from beneficiaries of the old order. Germany built its post-dictatorship economic miracle under the presence of Allied Forces for over four (4) decades. We still have US and NATO bases in Germany. Other economic powerhouses like Japan and South Korea developed in spite of the presence of US-led regional peace keeping forces within their jurisdictions.
It is a matter how the message is communicated to all parties involved and the public.
I believe this should serve as a wakeup call to the Coalition 2016 or President Barrow that they cannot blindly rely on the temporal benevolence of donors and they should be ready for the unexpected as those enticing our country with grants, loans and aid would eventually dump us once their interests are served.
The EU got its fishing agreement. The deportation of Gambians is ongoing, European companies are the biggest contractors of the 1, 2 billion Dollar OMVG power project, among others. So even if it stops funding ECOMIG, the EU has nothing to lose at it got the contracts it wanted from us already.
We should up our negotiations skills and see beyond the short term deals and donor hand-outs.
In line with a sustainable exit strategy, I suggest, as part of the ECOWAS Stand By Force plan that ECOMIG should be maintained as a hybrid battalion of professional Gambian and regional security personnel.
Increasing regional integration and trade requires increased joint security architecture.
Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) such as the involvement of ECOMIG medical teams in rural health care delivery, joint patrols with Gambian sister security forces, disaster relief, protection of endangered natural resources, civil engineering and technology transfer would add value to our national peace and social cohesion.
The EU has an EUROFOR Standby Force supporting its various national armies…
I will elaborate whenever I appear in a radio or TV show before my return to Germany.
I’m currently in my village in Jimara for the funeral of one of my late maternal grandfathers.
Prince Bubacarr Aminaya Sankanu,
Sotuma Sere, Jimara, URR.