By: Foday Manneh
Following massive divergent public views on images and videos circulating on social media showing military officers removing a Talib Bensouda banner in Sanyang village of the West Coast Region, the Gambia Armed Forces have probed into the matter and presented their findings.
The said banner contained the image of Talib Ahmed Bensouda, the opposition United Democratic Party’s leading candidate for the Kanifing Municipal Council mayoral seat, flanked by pictures of two wrestlers, which they say was put up there as an advertisement for a wrestling match between the two.
This removal triggered different public opinions, with some claiming a return to a dictatorship where military officers would act to suppress opposition to please the ruling party.
However, some of these views have propelled the GAF high command to clarify their stance and investigate the issue. Soon after, the Military made a release to share the findings of its investigation into the matter and said the actions of its uniformed men were not for anything other than security and safety reasons.
“His Excellency the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr. Adama Barrow, was scheduled to meet in Sanyang village on Wednesday, 17 May 2023. The Officer Commanding the Advance Team of the Presidential Guards whose job, among other things, includes ensuring the safe and unhindered passage of the President and his convoy,” GAF said.
“He observed that the said banner was obscuring the view of the drivers and therefore posed a safety risk. It should be emphasized that the banner was so low that some heavy vehicles carrying the tower lights and generators accompanying the Presidential Convoy could not pass through.”
“This assertion was also corroborated by eyewitnesses who were contacted on the ground during the investigation,” they added.
GAF reiterated that removing the banner, which could have been any other flag was purely for safety and security reasons.