By Mustapha Jallow

Military personnel from the sub region descended on Banjul, to attend the 42nd Session of General Assembly of the West Africa Liaison Office (WALO) currently underway.

The Gambia Armed Forces is hosting the 4-day session held at the Djembe Beach Resort in Kololi.  The 42nd session of the WALO officially opened on Monday, 22 October with the aims of promoting military sportsmanship, fostering mutual understanding between member states of the West Africa Sub-region and sharing of ideas in the area of sports, hence the slogan ‘Friendship through Sport’.

While at the session, the Chief of Defense Staff of GAF Lieutenant General Masanneh Kinteh, delivered a speech at the high-level event on WALO. He said the unanimous decision to host this august gathering in The Gambia is a clear reflection of the trust and confidence that WALO has in them as an Armed Forces and a nation despite ‘our challenges.’

“I gave them the support and assurance that the event will be hosted successfully,” he assured.

The CDS told the gathering that the Armed Forces is going through some reforms and transitional challenges following the aftermath of “our new democratic dispensation, the planned hosting of the football championship could not materialize.’’

“I have no doubt that this WALO assembly will serve as a forum where critical issues, concerning  military sport in the sub-region will be discussed in a way of promoting unity among the military forces in West Africa,’’ he said.

According to CDS Kinteh it has also become a significant tool to help the rebuilding of societies in post conflict situation.

In conclusion, he said: “In our peace keeping and peace building initiatives, sport can be an effective tool as it provides a useful way of creating an environment in which people and militaries of different nations can come together to work towards the same goal,’’

For his part, the Acting President of West Africa Liaison Office, Colonel Major Dumarou Sawadogo said despite all the challenges their they’re facing, they are thanking government for allowing them to host the 42nd session of the general assembly of WALO in The Gambia.

“I would like to convey here that our sub-region has been facing big challenges, especially in the area of terrorism. We’re all aware that such situations like this, always going to be” detractor to the advancement of our nations and the developments of our countries, he said.

He expressed his gratitude to ECOWAS that has been promoting the stability and peace within the sub-region and also promoting what is required to make sure that “we don’t have those kinds of crisis.’

He spoke in supporting of encouraging sports among military member states and establishing a fraternal link between members of ECOWAS.’’ “This 42nd General Assembly of WALO therefore is a great opportunity for us to discuss those possibilities and also to strengthen peace in our nations,’’ Col. Major Sawadogo concluded.

According to Permanent Secretary of Defence Ministry Cherno Omar Barry, sport is a form of making peace which involves team work, fairness, discipline and respect for the opponent. He said sport can also contribute to developments, create jobs, support the economy and promote gender quality.

He said some countries have been experiencing conflicts since they gained independence and in most cases even politicians and diplomas find it difficult to solve the conflict.

He said some conflicts usually arise due to discrimination, intolerance, tribalism and a host of other forms and when conflict occurs many lives are lost, property is destroyed and there’s retardation of growth and development.

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