19 June 2012

Gambia: Assembly Approves Troop Deployment to Bissau, Mali

Photo: Al-Jazeera
The Azawad region claimed by rebels is a broad area of northern Mali.

Members ofNational Assembly Monday considered and approved the motion of The Gambia to deploy troops to the two volatile countries of Guinea Bissau and Mali under the Ecowas Plan 2012 during their second sitting in the 2012 Legislative year.

The motion was laid before the National Assembly by the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy, who also doubles as the chairperson of the National Security Council.

Moving the motion, VP Njie-Saidy informed the NAMs that the Committee of Chiefs of Defence (CCDS) met in Abidjan, Cote d'Voire on 5th April 2011 pursuant to directives in that regard by the authority of the Heads of States Summit in Dakar on the occasion of the swearing-in ceremony of President Macky Sall of Senegal on 2nd April 2012.

"Accordingly His Excellency President Alassana Ouattara, chairman of Ecowas summoned an emergency meeting of CCDS in apparent attempt to design ways and means for speedy return to constitutional order and safeguard the territorial integrity of Mali," she added.

VP Njie-Saidy said the CCDS was instructed to take all necessary means both political and military to restore normalcy in Mali, adding that the Committee came out with a suitable action plan within a calendar period and a reasonable budget that can be supported by Ecowas and its partners.

VP Njie-Saidy toldthe Assembly that the Committee of Chief of Defence Staff was tasked to envisage in their depositions contingency measure for Guinea Bissau, another country with volatile political situation. "On our part, The Gambia is to contribute one infantry Company for Guinea Bissau and one military Police Platoon and an Infantry Company for Mali, in fulfilling our obligation under the Ecowas Agreement," she stated.

She said the security situation in Mali was assessed to be volatile and could degenerate with split over effects in the sub-region, noting that the Committee agreed to first restore constitutionality in Mali with the use of force if necessary and subsequently assist the Armed Forces of Mali in restoration of its territorial integrity. She added that they also recommended strengthening of security in Guinea Bissau for the forthcoming presidential run-off.

"The report of the CCDS meeting was shortly followed by a military takeover in Guinea Bissau which was followed by series of emergency meetings in Dakar, Abidjan, and Banjul. The outcomes of these meetings were a recommendation to give diplomacy a chance," she further told the deputies, adding that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Military Junta in Mali and Guinea Bissau for peaceful transfer of Provisional Civilian Ruler and the immediate withdrawal of Angolan Forces respectively.

"As at now the Angolan Forces have completed their withdrawal from Guinea Bissau and Ecowas have successfully deployed the first quarter of the forces. Ecowas is looking for a formal invitation from the interim government to enable deployment," she further intimated. The VP also noted that the assault on the interim president is slowing down progress in Mali.

The motion was subsequently seconded by Honourable Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Majority leader and NAM for Serrekunda East Constituency who described the motion as a 'non-controversial one', pointing out that this is not the first time the gallant men and women of The Gambia are going out to help sister countries to restore peace.

"If your neighbour's house is on fire go and help. Guinea Bissau and Mali are sister neighbouring countries, and our president has championed the cause of peace in the sub-region and the world at large. Therefore The Gambia should not hesitate to help restore peace in Mali and Guinea Bissau." Hon. Jatta concluded by thanking the GAF High Command for making The Gambia proud particularly when it comes to restoring peace in the sub-region.

For his part, Honourable Seedy S.K Njie, nominated member equally supported tthe motion . He said the country's gallant men and women have made The Gambia proud, noting that the country had deployed troops to Liberia and Sierra Leone, and continue to deploy to Darfur.

On his part, Honourable Baboucarr S. Fadera, NAM for Kiang Central said the approved motion is highly recommended, as The Gambia is well-known for peace building . Honourable Baboucarr Nyang of Banjul South ,Muhammed Magassy of Basse , and Foday A. Jallow of Niamina East Constituency unanimously supported the approved motion, stressing the importance of peace to any meaningful development.

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