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City of Banjul
Friday, January 22, 2021

Senegalese warning shots in Gambian air; is it time to revisit our security agreements?

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Call it the Hot-Pursuit Agreement or any other, this unhinged bastardization of our territorial integrity by Senegal must cease immediately.

The audacious shooting of a Kantora man last year by Senegalese troops, his seizure and subsequent transfer to the Senegalese territory still rankles.

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Sulayman Trawally was last March shot by the Senegalese security forces on allegation of endangering wildlife and it had to take a bitter fight on the floor of the Gambia’s legislature by Kantora’s Bilay G. Tunkara for him to be released from Senegalese captivity.

On Tuesday, there was a tense security atmosphere in the Upper River Region village of Gambisara. At around 3pm, armed Senegalese security forces ‘descended’ on the farming community to ‘cease’ logs from sawmills.

Villagers consequently mobilized, put up a resistance and the intruding forces reclined in an embarrassing retreat. One villager sustained injuries in the contact. There were also reports of wide-reaching alarm, panic and pandemonium in the area of several farming communities when shots were fired by the ‘invading’ Senegalese troops.

Is this not staggering for our already poverty-traumatized, development-starved and food-insecure communities?

And collectively as an independent, sovereign state, our pride is hurt, our sense of sovereignty blurred and our place among nations of equals put into question.

We are a small country among huge countries of the globe but we are an independent nation of sovereign people. We are not a federate, a conglomerate or a part of a triumvirate. We are a sovereign, independent state.

Senegalese soldiers should have no business with Gambian villagers over logs in their village. Senegal should have no reason to send her troops to a Gambian village to shoot someone on allegations of endangering wildlife.

A little bit of courtesy, at least! What had gone so awry with our shared values of respect for each another?

The Gambia deserves that respect. Her accommodating people want their bruised honour restored now.

Her peace-loving people do not deserve intrusion into their peace by unrestrained foreign forces. Her waters want to be rid of foreign domination so that it can give her children wholesome feed.

It is pathetic that four years after restoring democracy, our Chief Executive continues to be barricaded by foreign troops. Less than a year before Gambians return to the polls, foreign troops are still stationed in our country, firing shots and causing heartache to our people in different ways.

Despite Jammeh’s flight into quiet exile four years back, there is still not much to write home about when it comes to our reforms. The draft constitution is in jeopardy and the security reform painfully slow.

These are, indeed, among many vulnerabilities that any selfish entity could exploit to cause misery to our people.

It is difficult to understand why Dakar continues to disrespect our sovereignty but it is enough. Gambians expected peace and security from her neighbours after Jammeh’s exit from power. The last thing we need is feeling unsafe in our country.          

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