The ECOWAS Commission has reassured The Gambian government and people of its unwavering commitment to sustainable peace, stability and democracy in The Gambia, in the spirit of solidarity with all member States and regional integration.
According to a media release from the ECOWAS bureau in Nigeria, after leading international interventions for the peaceful transfer of power following the tension generated by the December 2016 Presidential election won by the opposition party, ECOWAS has a military force, ECOMIG, supporting peace and stability in the country.
“ECOWAS is not only in The Gambia because Gambia is an important member of ECOWAS, but also because Gambia has played its part in peace-keeping in our region (Liberia and Sierra Leone),” declared Mrs. Halima Ahmed, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, in Banjul recently, during the commissioning of an Officers’ Mess/Soldiers’ Canteen and Kitchen for the Nigerian Contingent of ECOMIG at the Yundum Barracks.
She recalled that The Gambia hosted the regional meeting that produced ECOWAS’ first peace accord on the Liberian crisis chaired by the first Gambian President, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in the early 1990s.
Commissioner Ahmed, who accompanied the ECOWAS Commission President H.E. Marcel de Souza on the diplomatic shuttles for the resolution of The Gambia’s December election dispute, led the Commission’s technical team that supported the 20-member ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, deployed by the President to observe Gambia’s 6th April 2017 Parliamentary polls.
The Commissioner was accompanied by the Head of ECOMIG Mission and ECOWAS Ambassador to The Gambia, Mrs. Vabah Gayflor at the commissioning ceremony, with whom she also participated at the ceremony organised by Senegal’s ECOMIG Continent at Bakau, to mark their country’s Independence Anniversary on the 4th April.
She explained that ECOWAS’ involvement in peace efforts in the new Gambia was its duty in line with the relevant protocols and instruments. She also lauded ECOWAS leaders for their wisdom and proactive intervention and praised the ECOMIG troops contributing countries – Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana – for rising up to the occasion.
Noting that there could be no economic development without peace and security, Commissioner Ahmed thanked the three Nigeria-based banks with offices in the Gambia – Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank and Skye Bank – for supporting the Canteen and kitchen Project.
The ECOMIG Force Commander Gen. Francois Ndiaye of Senegal, while acknowledging that military deployments to foreign countries always came with challenges, commended the Nigerian Contingent and the banks on the project, which he said would boost the morale of soldiers.
He also praised the Nigerian contingent Commander, Lt.-Col. Mohammed Adamu for making the welfare of troops under his command, a priority. “That is one of the hallmarks of a good commander,” he added.
The Gambia’s Chief of Defence Staff, Maj.-Gen. Yankuba Drammeh, who was represented at the occasion, thanked ECOWAS for deploying ECOMIG, and the Nigerian banks for their efforts in enhancing the welfare of the troops.
Nigerian Force Commander Lt.-Col. Adamu said the conditions of ECOMIG troops had improved from what it was when they first arrived in the country, and pledged the continent’s total commitment to the fulfilment of the mandate assigned to it by the ECOWAS leaders in support of peace and security in The Gambia.
He later presented commemorative Plaques to Commissioner Ahmed and Ambassador Gayflor to mark their visit to the Yundum Barracks. The Managing Directors of the three banks also received acknowledgement letters.
by Lamin B. Darboe