ECOMIG Is Good For Gambia!


ECOMIG Is Good For Gambia!

ECOMIG Is Good For Gambia, Just As NATO Is Good For Europe. Since the end of the Second World War in Europe in 1945, the United States Forces have been the mainstay of Europe’s “defence ofdemocracy” – and a bulwark against “the evil of Russian Communism”. So the USA Forces have been in Europe for 75 years – as part of the NATO Alliance although the reality is that it is a mainly American Force funded mainly by the American tax-payer (hence the row between Trump and Europe because Trump wants the Europeans to pay more for their own defence).

There is no doubt that a force similar to NATO, with contingents of soldiers stationed in all ECOWAS countries, would be good as a bulwark against the evils of the military coups and the civil wars that have plagued African countries since independence – and held back development.

The recent coup in Mali is a case in point. Mali clearly has had huge security problems over the last decade – and that is why Mali has a huge contingent of French soldiers in the country. But the French cannot interfere in the internal affairs of Mali to prevent a coup because of the France’s colonial legacy – just as the UK could not interfere in The Gambia to dislodge Jammeh because of UK’s colonial past.

ECOWAS as an association of West African states does not have the legitimacy issues that the colonial powers have – not least because our so-called “sovereign states” are an artificial colonial creation! (I mean, what makes Pa Nderry Mbai a “sovereign Gambian” when the majority of his fellow Wollof-speakers are in Senegal; and what makes Dida Halake a “sovereign Kenyan” when the majority of his Orominya-speakers are in Ethiopia”?!).

My point is that, petty colonially-imposed “nationalisms” aside, a Pan-Africa organisation like ECOWAS – and its stabilisation military contingents – are good for the region.

Specifically on The Gambia, the ECOMIG forces were able to prevent blood-shed in January 2017. The presence of the ECOMIG has also ensured that there won’t be a coup by the Gambian Army. As far back as the election of 2001, I asked the Jammeh Junta’s No. 2 what would happen if Lawyer Darboe’s UDP had won the election. The Junta No. 2 said: “We will give power back to the civilians, like Rawlings did in Ghana, and if they interfered with the military we will be back – like Rawlings did”! Of course, the Junta No. 1 rejected this idea … because he was not guaranteed to return as No. 1!

A possible new coup in The Gambia without ECOMIG?

Absolutely yes! The corruption in the civilian governments in Africa are so bad that ordinary soldiers, those from poor back-grounds like Yahya Jammeh and the Singhateh brothers are easily disgruntled … and would overthrow a corrupt civilian government at the drop of a hat if there was no fear of an external force such as ECOMIG or the Senegalese Army. Clearly the Gambian Armed Forces top-brass are well-looked after and they are not the problem. Just as in Mali, it is the hungry/angry lower ranks that the civilian ruling elite has to fear.

Security Sector Reform?

What “reform” can guarantee that soldiers will not pick up guns and stage a coup in a poor developing country? The only way, for a small poor country like The Gambia is a) to reduce the size of the armed forces to a small, very small, but well trained contingent of let us say 500 to 1,000 well trained soldiers – and paid them well and b) have a defence-pact with ECOWAS/Senegal which would include putting down a coup (ECOWAS has just failed to put down Mali’s coup for fear of a tough protracted fight, but that would not be a problem if The Gambia had only 500-1,000 soldiers). Gambia’s soldiers should only be an internal/border defence force … The Gambia has no external enemy to fight. Senegal is Gambia’s only neighbour … and the only defence The Gambia has against Senegal is that of international law!

Pa, I gotta leave it here … the Nuggets are hammering the Clippers! Love it! King James will hammer the Rockets tonight.

Dida Jallow-Halake,

Notting Hill, London, UK.

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