By Aisha Tamba
The report on a research conducted by Peace Research Institution of Frankfurt on local perceptions of African Union and Ecowas interventions in The Gambia was launched on Saturday and revealed that the majority of Gambians hold the view that the Ecowas military intervention in The Gambia or the Ecowas Mission in The Gambia, Ecomig, has overstayed its welcome.
The report is titled, “Siding With The People Or Occupying Force?” It was conducted in 2021 and 2022 as a collaboration between an international team of German and Gambian researchers.
It stated that although a large majority of Gambians welcomed the Ecowas intervention, there is a growing feeling that they have stayed too long. “In 2021, Afrobarometer data showed that eight of every ten Gambian wanted Ecomig to leave and for The Gambia defence and security forces to take charge of the country’s security… The initially celebrated Ecomig is now seen as a force that has overstayed its welcome and is perceived to be contributing to insecurity, particularly in the Foni region,” it stated.
The report noted that for many research participants, the view that Ecomig has overstayed its mandate has evoked a feeling of being sidelined and marginalised. “In the politicised version of this narrative, the Gambian military is depicted as being sidelined even though the Gambian military could perform the same tasks.”
However, the report noted that Ecowas is not extending the stay of its own accord. “Indeed, the organisation’s continuous presence in The Gambia is at the request of President Barrow and his government. However, in 2021 and early 2022, at the time of this research, only a few of the respondents were able to make this connection and blame Barrow for the extension – rather than Ecowas,” the report highlighted.