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PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER SAYS GAMBIA SHOULD SEND TROOPS TO NIGER

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If Ecowas goes ahead with plan

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By Tabora Bojang

President Adama Barrow’s political adviser Saihou Mballow has said there is no reason why Gambia should not contribute troops to restore constitutional order in Niger if Ecowas decided to intervene militarily.

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Ecowas took a strong stance against the coup and imposed trade and financial sanctions and ordered the coup leaders to reinstate the president within a week or face possible use of force.

Since the announcement of the ultimatum which elapsed Sunday, several Gambians including former army commander Samsudeen Sarr have urged President Barrow not to allow Gambian soldiers to take part because they are “not adequately prepared for such a risky and ill- advised mission”.

But presidential adviser Mballow argued that Gambia is considered a champion of democracy and would not shy away from taking part in any operation to bring Niger back to its democratic path.

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“I think it is very important for Gambians to understand and respect that Gambia is a signatory and also an important member of Ecowas and if Ecowas agree to send a military contingent to Niger we should accept it and support it. When there was an impasse in this country in 2017, it was Ecowas that intervened and made sure the will of Gambians is respected. If it was not for Ecowas, we would not have been able to maintain peace,” he said.

Mballow said the likes of Samsudeen Sarr should not forget that former president Jawara spear headed the establishment of the first West African intervention force that went to restore peace in Liberia.

“That good name and image of the Gambia is still there and it shows we care about our neighbors, our region and about democracy. We are synonymous with democracy and admired as a country that respects the principle of democracy and we should make sure we work with our international partners to restore democracy in the sub-region,” Mballow told The Standard.

Mballow also dismissed suggestions that the Gambian army is not ready to take part in military intervention.

“The army is always prepared. They are not going there as a lone force. They are going to be deployed under Ecowas and the regional body will make sure that all the necessary contingency and the resources are available. So, our army is not going to be isolated. They are going to work with a community. It is not a matter of Gambia being prepared or not. We are participating and contributing to the United Nations mission in Sudan and other countries,” he said. 

Asked if these comments are a reflection on President Barrow’s stance against coups, the presidential adviser said: “Gambia wants to tell the whole world that we respect the principle of democracy and we will do our best to promote it anywhere. We are going to be part of countries that will work with the international community to make sure there is zero tolerance for coups. We want to make sure democracy prevails in the region. This is provided for in the UN, AU and Ecowas protocols and we are not going to remain behind”.

Meanwhile Gambia army chief Yankuba Drammeh was reportedly among military heads who met in Nigeria over the matter.

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