Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh’s appointment as National Security Adviser has generated mixed reactions with some congratulating the former military chief and others urging the President Adama Barrow to rescind his appointment.
It appeared that Gen. Kinteh while serving as Ambassador to Cuba wrote to former President Yahya Jammeh denouncing the thwarted putsch to oust Jammeh in December 2014.
“We join all well-meaning Gambians and decent voices the world over, in condemning this brutal action by unpatriotic and misguided elements against your Administration, and the peace-loving and God-fearing people of our beloved country,” Kinteh said then.
His comments have outraged the Gambian diaspora community that has played an influential role in the coup and ousting of Jammeh in the polls.
We must, however, remember that all opposition parties that came together to form the coalition that the Diaspora supported and funded all condemned the December 30 coup, strongly.
Opposition leaders quickly distanced themselves from the coup. The move was political and it explains why Mr. Kinteh too made a political decision to follow in the same spirit as other Ambassadors stationed in other nations did.
It is in the same line that many Ambassadors, though being appointed by Jammeh wrote to him to step down.
It will be a big mistake to alienate everyone that work in the Jammeh administration during the last two decades. Well, the country’s new Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang has worked as a minister under the junta.
There are some who have served in Jammeh’s government that can make Barrow’s stay in power smooth.
There are still people that Mr. Barrow can bring into the State House as advisers or special assistants under a domestic and economic council like former Finance Minister Abdou Kolley and Mambury Njie.
Gen. Masanneh Kinteh is a well-experienced soldier with a Masters in Military Science. As a former head of the army, he will be an important asset to neutralize any military threat to Barrow and help unite the army as part of its restructuring, re-innovation, and reform.
The appointment of a military aide to serve as a liaison will also bring about effective civil-military relations.
Above all, military veterans have significant political clout. We may say the military should not be involved in politics but they do their own play, especially in Africa and Asia. Admittedly, the interplay between politics and the military is a complicated subject matter.
I learned one lesson from an American politics, military and intelligence play that war, which the Gambia narrowly escaped, is an extension of politics.
There is so much strength that can arise from Gen. Kinteh’s diplomatic and military experience.
We must not be emotional about issues. Having worked for Jammeh and condemning the December 30 coup is not enough to deny someone who has not committed crimes against the state and human rights abuses a job that he can do well.