The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) views with utter dismay the embarrassing spate of events currently going on in the nation and wishes to call on the nation’s leadership to address the issue with urgency. Recent developments in our country beg a clarion call from all Gambian citizens and allied stakeholders to address the brewing critical issues capable of throwing our nation’s peace overboard.
On Jan. 24, 2022, there was a reported outbreak of clashes between rebel and ECOMIG forces, and since then, information has been rife of the incessant arrests of Gambian citizens by the Senegalese soldiers in the ECOMIG team. According to an official statement released by the President of Senegal, Macky Sall; the soldiers were on an operation against timber trafficking, and which has provoked a myriad of questions regarding the mandate of the ECOMOG forces as many believe it is contrary to the mandate of their mission in the country. To make this matter worse, Alkalo of Karroad, Momodou Mbye Bojang and a Gambian Police Officer attached to the Criminal Investigation Unit Abdou Jammeh were arrested by the Senegalese soldiers.
The troubling issue here is; why Senegalese soldiers should arrest Gambian citizens on the Gambian soil, in their own fatherland? Common sense tells one that, it is absurd and against conventional legal norms for a foreign soldier to arrest a citizen in his or her own country without the consent of the nation’s law enforcement division. The Gambian prides itself with both professional armed and Police forces, and thus, why should these foreign soldiers interfere with the duties and responsibilities of our Police Force? This apart, in civilized societies, arrest of citizens is not the duty of the military, it is the exclusive reserve of the Police force, and not withstanding a foreign soldier arresting a citizen in his own country. How did our beloved Gambia get to this point?
GDC is therefore calling on the government of The Gambia to effect the immediate release of the two citizens, Alkalo Momodou Bojang and Police Officer, Abdou Jammeh held by Senegalese soldiers. For the sake of clarity, the ECOWAS charter in respect of their mandate on Peacekeeping Missions never mandated ECOMIG to enforce any country’s domestic law, hence they do not have the mandate of powers to arrest Gambian citizens alleged to have committed an offence; it is the exclusive duty of our Police Force to handle such matters. As a matter of fact, investigating wood loggers/deforestation is the duty of The Gambia Police Force/Gambia Forestry Department.
It vital to note that, the prolongation of the ECOMIG mission and the continued presence of foreign troops in Gambian soil has huge counterproductive implications for our sovereignty and stability in the long term.