It is three days today since Senegalese soldiers invaded the Gambia in what they claim was a mission against illegal timber traffickers in which some of their soldiers got killed and injured. The Senegalese President Macky Sall had offered his condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers since Tuesday. The Senegalese military itself had earlier issued a statement about the incident.
Yet, in the Gambia itself, the Government is yet to issue a public statement to inform citizens about what happened and to provide assurances of their safety. Is it that the Government does not care or respect citizens? Why have Pres. Adama Barrow and the Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Yakuba Drammeh kept silent over this matter since Monday until now? Why should Gambians know of what happened in their own country from foreign official sources and not from our own official sources?
What the Senegalese soldiers did in the Gambia should be considered an invasion and it is unacceptable. The Gambia is a sovereign republic hence no foreign forces should enter this country to conduct a military operation for free. Such an action tantamount to infringing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Gambia for which the Gambia Government should be seen addressing the matter including informing citizens accordingly.
The Gambia has armed and security forces for both territorial defence and internal security. Hence if Senegalese timber traffickers should enter the Gambia, it must be left to the Gambia’s defence and security outfits to handle that matter. Senegal cannot arrogate to themselves the right and power to enter our territory just because they are fighting their criminals. Similarly, the Gambia Government should not give permission to Senegal to enter our country to handle a matter that our national security and defence forces can equally handle.
Therefore, why did Senegalese forces enter the Gambia? Why has the Gambia Government remained silent over it until today? Who gave the Senegal the permission to enter the Gambia to conduct a military operation? On what legal basis?
Pres. Adama Barrow must be told that he has a duty to defend the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Gambia by all means, at all times, at any cost and against anyone. This incursion by Senegalese forces is a threat to national security for which the President must be held responsible.
The National Assembly must take leadership and responsibility to address this major infringement on the country. If this incursion had happened in another country, the parliament would have immediately summoned the President or the Minister of Defence or the Chief of Defence Staff or all of them to answer to the issue. How come therefore that the National Assembly has not taken such step in this case in the Gambia?
Over the past 3 years, this is the third incident of Senegalese forces violating the territory of the Gambia. It could be recalled that Senegalese forces once entered Basse area and illegally arrested a Gambian. At another time, they entered Jarra and nearly clashed with locals. Now they have entered the Foni areas to engage in full combat operation. This trend is worrying as it makes mockery of the sovereignty, dignity and security of the Gambia.
What is even more worrying is the silence of Gambian authorities as if they have surrendered their duties to the Senegalese. The overall presence of Senegalese forces on Gambia soil must be addressed. It has been five years now since ECOMIG forces including Senegalese are stationed in this country. For how long shall they be here? This is a matter that the President should tell citizens what is his game plan for ECOMIG and Senegalese soldiers in particular.