Security reform is crucial for the military and police, as well as services such as customs, immigration and the justice system, says Mohammed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Envoy for Western Africa.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has appointed former military chief Gen. Masanneh Kinteh as his National Security Adviser. Many believe Kinteh will be effective in reuniting and reforming the military, and building a great relation between the army, government and civilian population.
Gambia’s army has been accused of human rights abuses including torture and killings under former President Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh refused to cede power after losing elections, sparking a political crisis. At least 7,000 regional troops have been sent to depose the longstanding strongman, who was backed by his military.
“The force that is around there is very much an ECOWAS force, with elements from Ghana, from Nigeria and from Senegal, so they have to share the task … and work very closely with the new government to see how they can very quickly bring the necessary security that is required in the country,” Mr. Chambas said.
Gambia’s army chief Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie said they are cooperating with the ECOWAS force to stabilize the situation.
Barrow returned to Banjul on Thursday to take power after being sworn-in in at the Gambia’s embassy in neighboring Senegal over safety concerns.
More than 45,000 Gambians have fled the country fearing a violent confrontation between forces loyal to former President Yahya Jammeh and the internationally backed ECOWAS troops.
Jammeh has gone into exile in Equatorial Guinea, a country with an autocratic leader like himself. Jammeh is accused of robbing the country of at least US$12 million, prompting the UN to urge the international community to financially come to the aid of the peanut exporting nation.