A Gambian journalist, Fabakary Ceesay is accusing West African forces of injuring him and threatening to shoot him in the lobby of a hotel where the country’s new President Adama Barrow was addressing human rights defenders.
The West African troops, mainly from neighboring Senegal are part of the regional ECOWAS mission to unseat former President Yahya Jammeh and install Barrow as the leader.
“They were very arrogant towards the people that came late….While I stepped to pick up my bag, this Senegalese ECOMIG soldier pulled my bag and said I could not enter because the hall is full,” said Ceesay, who provided photos of his bleeding fingers.
Ceesay said a protocol officer had cleared them to enter the hall just minutes before the confrontation. Ceesay and the unnamed army officer had exchanged words before the situation escalated into a physical altercation.
“He pushed me and I too pushed him. He hit me on my chest saying he saw me being rude to his colleagues. I responded that he was rude as well. He then hit me again and I hit him back,” Ceesay said.
“He pointed his rifle to my chest and threatened to pull the trigger. He hung his gun and then pushed me and I push back. We exchange blows and two of his colleagues joined him to drag me out.”
The incident was witnessed by another Gambian journalist, Kebba Jeffang. Jeffang said that the ECOMIG presidential guards “got it all wrong by manhandling him [Ceesay].”
“The government must show them their limit. They are becoming too much on defenseless citizens of The Gambia,” he said.
West African troops are being probed for the killing of an unarmed protester, Haruna Jatta in southwestern Gambia after supporters of former President Yahya Jammeh confronted them.
Residents of the region accuse the troops of violating their civil and human rights. According to villagers outside Kanilai, in Foni, Senegalese forces were humiliating and threatening them, and demanded their removal.
Gambian authorities say investigations into the allegations are on. Journalists in The Gambia, including Ceesay, were targeted by the ousted regime of Jammeh. Ceesay had just returned to The Gambia from exile.