Gambian security forces and regional troops have started patrolling the streets of the capital together, a day after they arrived in mainland Africa’s smallest country to stabilize the political turmoil that was sparked by former President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to cede power.
The region force, ECOMIG disarmed Gambian soldiers to secure the presidency ahead of President Adama Barrow’s arrival.
Gambia’s army chief Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie told reporters that the foreign troops were not an invading force but there to compliment the efforts of the Gambia’s armed and security services.
An ECOMIG general said heavy weapons are missing from the presidential compound and they have launched a search for them. He, however, fears that the weapons may fall into the wrong hands.
ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza said the regional troops will remain in the Gambia until the situation is fully stabilized, stashed weapons found and mercenary fighters whisked away.
Gambia’s former President Yahya was forced to flee the country into exile after President Barrow authorized the use of military force to enforce the outcome of the elections in which the longtime autocratic ruler suffered defeat.
Barrow is expected to return to Banjul this week to take over power. He is currently in Senegal, where he had been holed up pending security clearance for his safety.