ECOWAS extends Gambia military mission


West African troops extended a military mission in Gambia by a year after entering the country in January to force out longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, regional bloc ECOWAS said.

About 500 ECOWAS troops remain in Gambia of the original 7,000 that crossed from neighbouring Senegal to force Jammeh into exile and leave the presidency to Adama Barrow, who defeated him in a December election.

Soldiers from the mission, known as ECOMIG, came under attack last Friday by locals in Jammeh’s native village of Kanilai, Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty said in a televised statement, underscoring unresolved tensions from Jammeh’s 22-year rule.

One demonstrator demanding the departure of ECOMIG and state troops was killed in the clashes and security forces made 22 arrests, Fatty said.

The tiny country of 2 million people is trying to rebuild its economy and obtain justice for victims of Jammeh’s government, accused of torturing and killing perceived opponents.

Separately, ECOWAS’s 15 member states gave preliminary approval to Morocco’s bid to join the bloc “because of its strong and multi-dimensional links of co-operation with West Africa”, ECOWAS said in a statement.