A statement by main opposition, United Democratic Party (UDP), on Tuesday stated: “A few days ago, an untoward incident occurred in Foni in the vicinity of villages close to the Gambia-Senegal border. Whereas not all the facts and circumstances pertaining to the incident are clear to the citizens of The Gambia, UDP believes that this grave situation requires urgent action from the Gambia Government.
“The UDP expresses serious concerns about the blatant disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Gambia that this incident has put in the spotlight. The UDP believes in the sovereign equality of nations and hereby urges the two states to continue to strengthen the historic Gambia–Senegal relationship, which is unique and indispensable.”
UDP warned that if such is not dealt with swiftly and amicably, it could pose serious consequences on the friendly relations between The Gambia and neighbouring Senegal. Nonetheless, the party advises The Gambia Government never to allow the internal tensions and contradictions in Senegal to be played out on Gambian soil.
“Given The Gambia’s unique geographical location surrounded by Senegal on all sides except in the west, it is relatively easy for internal conflicts of Senegal to spill over the porous borders between the two countries.”
UDP commended the setting up of a Presidential Taskforce and expects that the investigations be thorough and findings be implemented, the statement concludes.
Similarly, leader and Secretary General of The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), Hon. Mama Kandeh on behalf of the party expressed with 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.
“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 questions regarding the mandate of the ECOMIG forces as many believe it is contrary to the mandate of their mission in the country.”
“To make this matter worse, Alkalo of Karol, Momodou Mbye Bojang and a Gambian Police Officer attached to the Criminal Investigation Unit Abdou Jammeh were arrested by the Senegalese soldiers.
GDC further questions the mandate of Senegalese soldiers arresting Gambians on Gambian soil, adding that it is absurd and against conventional legal norms for a foreign soldier to arrest citizens in their own country without the consent of the nation’s law enforcement division.
The Party terms this unscrupulous act by ECOMIG as an interference with the duties and responsibilities of the Gambia Police Force, as it is the exclusively reserved right of the Gambia Police Force, and not withstanding a foreign soldier arresting a citizen in his own country. GDC also argues ECOMIG has no mandate to enforce any country’s domestic laws.
GDC called on the government to effect the immediate release of the two citizens, Alkalo Momodou Bojang and Police Officer Abdou Jammeh, who were held by Senegalese soldiers.
“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 on Gambian soil has huge counterproductive implications on our sovereignty and stability in the long term,’ the statement resolved.
In response to the tragic incident, which has already led to hundreds already seeking sanctuary in neighbouring villages, the government has revealed the composition of a Presidential Taskforce to thoroughly investigate the incident and the masses are eagerly waiting.