Gambia’s celebrity army chief who has found popularity during the political crisis in the country will not be losing his top military job after Gambians rallied online calling for the new President Adama Barrow to keep him.
Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie will remain the country’s Chief of Defense Staff, Barrow announced on Saturday.
Bargie refused to have his men deployed to fight regional troops, saying he will not engage them in a ‘stupid fight’ over a ‘political misunderstanding.’
“We will welcome ECOWAS troops with flowers and give them tea. They will put their guns over there and enjoy the smiling coast with us,” he said.
Bargie confused Gambian political observers after reversing his pledge to support Adama Barrow when Jammeh took a u-turn. His wife said it was a tactical maneuver.
The comical military leader has found fame with his comments and the peace sign, which is now a signature move on all his photos.
Thousands of people are joining a fans club group on social media and are making plans to have a show in his honor on independence day next month. They are also brainstorming designs for t-shirts and other apparels.
President Barrow has appointed former military chief that Bargie replaced, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh as his National Security Adviser.
Bargie’s new found fame does not take away that the Gambia’s military has been complicit in crimes against the state and human rights abuses.
Kinteh, a diplomat as well is expected to liaison between the local army, ECOMIG troops, the government and the public. Barrow has promised to reform the military and transform it into a more professional army.