Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The surprise return of the generals and the national security implications

Arriving in the early morning hours of last Sunday, and by all indications unhindered and unquestioned by immigration officers, at Banjul International Airport from Equatorial Guinea via Morocco on Royal Air Maroc flight, were army generals Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba who were part of  Jammeh's entourage that fled to Equatorial Guinea on involuntary exile. 

The two military officers apparently were processed through immigration and customs without any problems as they left the airport for their respective homes.  They were arrested between noon and 1PM or 12 hours after they arrived in the country and are now in military custody, according to the Chief of Defense Staff, Masanneh Kinteh.

Like the others in the Jammeh entourage, these two are among Jammeh's most trusted lieutenants and close confidantes.  They have spent an entire year living in involuntary exile with the ex-dictator's wife, children and mother until they decided that living in Malabo has become unbearable and thus decided to return to The Gambia.

According to the CDS, the military authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the arrests which will also look into the motives of the two generals.  When asked whether they had any subversive materials in their persons, the CDS was unable to disclose anything of substance while the investigations are in progress.

The return of the two generals is not the first time members of Jammeh's entourage have abandoned him and returned home, that included ex-ministers, parliamentarians and senior civil servants of the Jammeh regime.  This is however the first time that senior military officers have parted company with Jammeh who is left with the Republican Guard Commander Gen. Saul Badgie, Jammeh's ADC Capt. Wandifa Barrow and Lt. Col. Amadou Joof.   Jammeh's mother and a few household staff are still in Equatorial Guinea.

Perplexed by the nonchalant demeanor of CDS Kinteh during his radio interview, considering the seriousness of the obvious security breach that occurred last Sunday morning at the Banjul International Airport, we reached out to our sources who expressed not only the serious nature of the breach but its implication to national security.

How can two prominent and highly visible military officers performed all airport formalities without being held for questioning,, one source asked?  Didn't they recognize them? Why did it take over 12 hours, based on the timeline provided by the CDS, before they were arrested and held in custody?  What happened within the 12-hour window?  Were any seditious materials or arms and ammunition found in their persons?

Do you know the chilling effect this will have on present and prospective investors?   The entire episode makes no sense.  There's a high degree of complicity and it is the duty of the Barrow administration to get to the bottom of the matter and let the chips fall where they may.

There are so many questions that deserve answers from both the military and the national security agencies, but also from the government of Adama Barrow.  The peace is threatened now more than ever before.

The frustration of the current security and political trend in the country is summed up by Gambian activist when he said in a Facebook entry and we quote : No political party that backed a despot ever had a seat in gov.  None.  But in Gambia, they make up the majority of of all appointments including thieves that oversee the protocol of a whole...president.  So why can't perpetrators come home? unquote.  Could Yaya Jammeh's grand entry be far behind?