Monday, March 27

FARD questions presence of Senegalese soldiers in Foni

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By Mustapha Jarju

Foni Agency for Rural Development (FARD) has questioned the presence of Senegalese soldiers under Ecowas Mission in Foni while calling for their replacement with The Gambian soldiers.

The Agency’s secretary general Haruna Badjie said in a statement: “the clash between the Senegalese soldiers and the Casamance rebels in Foni border on Monday 23rd January 2022 saying, our silence and niceness cannot and should not be taken as cowardice, enough is enough! We have earned the right to live a free life as is with all others around the country.”

According to him, in the past few days the people of Foni have been in moment of sobering reflection as dark cloud of anxiety, pain and trauma seriously affect the people of Foni after hearing an unusual gun battle in the area after fight began between the MFDC rebels and the ECOMIG Senegalese contingent around Ballen border in Foni Kansala.

He said the ugly incident has forced many to flee their homes for fear of losing their lives in a war that has nothing to do with them.

“FARD since hearing the unfortunate news in their urgent reaction showed solidarity to their people and gathered some resources to help victims who have been internally displayed. “This is a short-term reprieve to help our people but what should we do to have sanity, security, safety, peace and dignified living conditions in Foni, by thinking from different direction with question, are we not sovereign citizens, and why are we are treated differently and finally, why the continues occupational forces in and if for security reasons- why not Gambian military or Ghanaians or Nigerian forces in Foni- the Senegalese soldiers with the full knowledge that Foni has close proximity with southern Senegal (Casamance) who are sworn enemies with the MFDC,” he stated.

“Besides mourning the death of both the military and rebels who lost their lives in this avoidable scenario- we ask ourselves is this sustainable – the answer is NO – is it avoidable – the answer is an emphatic YES,” says FARD.

He said they have submitted the following to the Gambia government which included the Immediate review of the security posts in Foni and demilitarization of the area, replacement of the Senegalese with Gambian Security Forces, immediately ban on tall Timber exports via the area, deployment of Gambia National Army around the Border, and remove the security check-point in Bwiam.

He said the presence of the Senegalese soldiers in the west coast part of Foni since 2018 has in no way given them a feeling of safety but rather makes them an object of suspicion. Our people suffer constant intimidation and harassment whilst our Women suffer sexual exploitation and abuse