One of the Kanilai protesters shot on Friday by the Senegalese forces, who are part of the ECOMIG forces has died today, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. He died as a result of a gunshot wounds he sustained from the shootout allegedly perpetrated by the Senegalese forces. The protesters were protesting for the withdrawal of the ECOMIG forces from the region of Foni—more importantly from the home of former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
The ECOMIG forces are not mandated to quell protest marches under their new mandate. That’s the role of the Gambian police. So far, one person has been confirmed dead. The hospitalized protester could not make it; he succumbed to his death this morning.
The Gambian army command dispatched its men in Kanilai late Friday, to help restore calm in the area. One of the army officers, who was mediating for peace with the protesters said the protesters have legitimate reasons to take to the streets to demand for the withdrawal of the ECOMIG forces, but he begged them to remain civil and avoid any form of violent protest. The officer speaking in the Mandinka dialect said they as members of the armed forces, it is not their wish to have foreign occupation forces in their own country.
“We are not happy that these people are here. The army is the last defense force for the country. Gambia’s security should be in the hands of the security forces and not in the hands of any foreign occupation forces. We are here to protect you. We are with you,” said the officer, who was applauded by the protesters.
“I am appealing to you to remain calm. None of us is happy about the occupation of the foreign forces. I have served my country for many years. My son was born in Jammeh’s era. He is twenty-two years today, and is a serving member of the army,” he said.
The death of the Kanilai protester is likely going to further plunge Foni into chaos. It is going to cause a strain relationship between the ECOMIG forces and the residents in Foni.
The protesters had earlier called for the withdrawal of officer Salifu Corr from Kanilai. They said Mr. Corr is a non-Gambian. They even threatened to attack Mr. Corr’s residence in Kanilai. Mr. Corr is a serving member of Gambia’s armed forces. He was heading the Barra military post prior to his recent transfer to Kanilai.