A Gambian soldier has been taped displaying contempt towards West African troops deployed to stabilize the country after months-long political turmoil almost slipped the country into a civil war.
The soldier, whose name has not been released declared his “unhappiness” with the presence of the ECOMIG forces that have now taken over the security of the small nation.
“I am the least happy about this. We wear this uniform to and put our lives on the line to protect this country but a small thing happened and they bring in foreigners,” the soldier, who is stationed at the Kamfenda Barracks said.
“We are here to protect you and we call for calm. We know how you the people of Kanilai and the whole of Foni feel. We are going through it ourselves.”
The inaction of the Gambia’s army, which has long backed Jammeh and thwarted about a dozen putsch to overthrow him, for the most part, has been blamed for the deployment of the ECOMIG stabilization force.
A majority of the Gambia’s military stayed out of the political standoff that followed Jammeh’s refusal to cede power. Upon realizing that his loyalists will not be able to hold back and match the might of regional forces, Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea.
Supporters of Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh, who was ousted by the regional forces, revolted against their presence in Kanilai, Jammeh’s native home.
A battalion of the troops is stationed in Kanilai, and have taken control of the ex-leaders compound, which is among hundreds of assets seized by the new government.
“The soldier publicly expressing in Foni his hatred of ECOWAS forces in the country is indicative of the serious intellectual and psychological damages caused by Yahya Jammeh on all the fringes of the main force in charge of maintaining our territorial integrity,” said journalist and activist, Frédéric Tendeng.
“When a soldier is unable to hold his tongue and pronounces a discourse that ignites discord at the helm of a crisis situation, it is a clear sign to the state authorities that the danger is more than real.”
Jammeh is said to have loyalist within the army and had recruited members of a militia group from his APRC party called the Green Boys and former rebel fighters into the army.
Loyalists of Jammeh in the army, who were securing his compound in April exchanged fire with West African troops. The incident was downplayed by Gambian authorities as a “misfire from a miscommunication.”
Foni is now a strong opposition strong, where Jammeh still has unshakable support. It was the epicenter of post-electoral violence that followed the April parliamentary polls. Dozens were arrested but charges against them were later dropped.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow is rolling out a reform program for the army and vows to weed out those that were enlisted into the army without following proper procedure.