ECOMIG battle tank

(JollofNews) – ECOMIG forces have entered The Gambian capital Banjul as part of an elaborate mopping up operation that would pave the way for the return to the country of new President Adama Barrow.

Regional forces made up mainly of Senegalese troops entered the city on Sunday evening with battle tanks as residents cheered from the sidewalks.

Forming long columns, they fanned out to different strategic locations on West Africa’s smallest capital city with some heading for the seat of power at State House.

The latest ECOMIG troop movement in the city is part of an elaborate operation to strengthen security across the country.

Reliable sources told APABanjul on Sunday that ECOMIG forces have been disarming soldiers in the army barracks in the town of Farafenni.

They entered the town early on Sunday morning, occupied the military barracks, ordered Gambian soldiers there to lay down their arms before proceeding to dismantle its defensive fortifications.

Sources in the southern parts of the country also claimed that ECOMIG forces have also entered former President Yahya Jammeh’s home village of Kanilai to take over what’s left of its military installation which reportedly came under heavy shelling from invading Ecowas troops on Thursday.

Some of their troops have been sighted in other parts of the country including the coastal village of Kartong bordering Senegal’s southern region of Casamance.

Others spoke of similar ECOMIG troop movements in the northern town of Esau.

The movement of ECOMIG troops is necessitated to neutralize deployments by a section of the Gambian military on the orders of former President Yahya Jammeh to resist intervention by the regional grouping aimed at forcibly removing him from power after losing last month’s election to opposition rival Adama Barrow.

Jammeh flew into exile late on Saturday, ending a protracted political crisis caused by his dramatic U-turn despite initially conceding the election to Barrow.

The head of the Ecowas Commission, Marcel de Souza said the mopping up operation will clear the way for Barrow’s eventual return to Banjul from Dakar, Senegal where he has been taking temporary refuge since last week as the political crisis came to a head with the deployment of regional troops to oust Jammeh following the expiry of a deadline for him to step down.

According to de Souza the ECOMIG troops are also mandated to search, find and neutralize secret weapons depots Jammeh had built over the years.

“We will look for hidden weapons and mercenaries will be arrested to create a true situation of tranquility, secure the return of populations who fear reprisals and to ensure that the country regain its national unity” he added.