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GAF gives reasons for bringing down the banner containing Mayor Bensouda’s image

UPDATE ON THE GAF PRESS RELEASE

1. The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) High Command wishes to express its appreciation to the general public for the comments and observations made following its clarification on the images and videos that were trending on social media on Thursday 18 May 2023, depicting individuals in military uniform lowering a banner. It might be important to remind this audience that the banner contained a commercial advertisement for a Wrestling Competition in which Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda of the United Democratic Party is flanked by two wrestlers.

2. Our investigations have revealed that the banner was hung very low and dangling across one of the streets in Sanyang Village, Kombo South District, West Coast Region, where His Excellency the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Mr. Adama Barrow was scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday 17 May 2023. The Officer Commanding the Advance Team of the Presidential Guards whose job among other things, includes, to ensure the safe and unhindered passage of the President and his Convoy, observed that the said banner was obscuring the view of the drivers and therefore posed a safety risk. It should be emphasised that the banner was so low that some of the heavy vehicles carrying the tower lights and generators accompanying the Presidential Convoy could not pass through. In view of this, the Officer acted swiftly and in good faith given the prevailing circumstances as the arrival of the President was also imminent. Accordingly, he instructed some soldiers to untie one side of the banner and place it on the side of the road to allow free, safe and secure passage of the Convoy. It is evident that it was at this moment that photos/videos of the soldiers were taken by a passerby while they (soldiers) were setting the banner aside. This assertion was also corroborated by eye witnesses who were contacted on the ground during the investigation process.

3. The GAF High Command wishes to reiterate that the removal of the banner (which could have been any other banner) was purely for safety and security reasons. We wish to also state categorically that GAF had no intention (whatsoever) to send any of its soldiers to bring down any political banner or paraphernalia in any part of The Gambia as has been erroneously reported by some local and international media platforms.

4. It might be instructive to assert that GAF has an ‘Open-door’ policy to the media as its Directorate of Press and Public Relations has always been forthcoming when it comes to information sharing with the media for the exclusive purpose to bridge the communication gap between the military and the civil populace. Accordingly, GAF would like to seize this opportunity once again to encourage the media both online and offline (at home and abroad) to always get in touch with its Directorate of Press and Public Relations when faced with similar situations in the future. The GAF High Command wishes to further reaffirm its commitment to the principle of neutrality and apolitical posture at all times in the dispensation of its constitutional mandate.

5. While we hope that this clarification would be helpful in putting to sleep the issue of the ‘Banner’, we regret any inconvenience the unfortunate incident might have caused.

Signed

LAMIN K SANYANG

Lieutenant Colonel

Director of Press and Public Relations

Gambia Armed Forces

19 May 2023

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