ECOWAS is to start a gradual reduction of its troops in the Gambia, said General Francois Ndiaye, head of its mission in the small country, which is surrounded by Senegal on all three sides except for the short Atlantic coastline on the West.
Most of the troops to be withdrawn will be from its infantry component, but the air and naval forces will be less affected.
“This reduction in the volume of forces concerns mainly the land component, but the air and naval forces are also affected to a lesser degree,” General Ndiaye said.
Last weekend, ECOWAS Commission President Marcel Alain de Souza said that some 4,000 men had already been involved in the ECOMIG operation, out of a maximum of 7,000 men from five of the 15 countries.
There is no timeline for the withdrawal of ECOMIG troops, who the Gambia’s President Adama Barrow said are there to help stabilize the political turmoil sparked by former President Yaya Jammeh’s refusal to cede power.
The regional troops entered the West African nation, which has a population of fewer than two million people to depose Jammeh and uphold the outcome of the country’s last month’s polls.
Jammeh suffered defeat in the hands of Barrow, a businessman, backed by seven opposition groups.
ECOWAS forces have started working alongside Gambian security forces to secure the capital and patrol the streets.
Gambia’s President Barrow said he would like to to have a sufficient force on the ground as the transition continues. ECOWAS President Marcel de Souza said the regional body will see which troops will be withdrawn and which would be retained.