West African Forces protecting Gambia’s President Adama Barrow said the soldiers guarding the new leader acted in accordance with standard operating procedures, refusing a journalist entry to cover an event and injuring him.
Fabakary Ceesay was threatened by a Senegalese soldier, who pointed a gun at him and warned he would shoot him. Ceesay was dragged out by two other soldiers after getting into a physical altercation with the soldiers.
Ceesay had arrived at the event late but said they were cleared by a protocol officer to enter. But the spokesperson for the West African Forces, Lt. Cdr Andy La-Anyane said no trained security personnel will allow that to happen.
“It is important to establish the fact that protocols at all levels are set of guidelines that are intended to guide our activities. The fact that one is a journalist does not mean protocols at the seat of the president would be relaxed for such an individual,” La-Anyane said.
“If you are required to cover an assignment where the president is to attend, courtesy requires that you arrive at the appropriate time before the president takes his seat. This is international standards.”
The West African Force dubbed ECOMIG helped oust former President Yahya Jammeh and has since been protecting Mr. Barrow, whose life has been considered to be under threat.
Gambian authorities have so far foiled a revolt against Barrow’s regime and security forces are on alert over reports of an external armed opposition.
The West African Forces are under investigation for the shooting death of an opposition protester, Haruna Jatta in Foni, where local accused them of violating their rights. Many have condemned their manhandling of Ceesay as well.
“ECOMIG has had very good working relations with the Gambian media and we cherish this cordial relation so much. We will do whatever it takes to maintain such good working relations. We acknowledge the role they play in the developmental agenda of any country, Gambia being no exception,” said La-Anyane.