Ecomig has started downsizing its troops deployed to restore democracy in the West African nation of The Gambia. At least 200 troops from the Nigerian Air Force have returned after forcing former President Yahya Jammeh into exile.
Jammeh suffered defeat in the hands of the country’s current President Adama Barrow in December but refused to hand over power, prompting EOCWAS, a regional economic bloc to scramble forces from more than five nations to enforce the outcome of the polls.
Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, who led the Nigerian airmen to Gambia said former President Yahya Jammeh was prepared for military action but was scared by the air power deployed by the Nigerian forces.
The West African troops are to stay in The Gambia for at least six months. Gambia’s military chief Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie said last week the his force and the troops led by Major Gen. Francois Ndiaye are conducting joint patrols to secure the capital, Banjul and stabilize the situation.
Gambian soldiers were disarmed and demobilize by the Ecomig forces who are helping with the vetting process of the local army.
President Adama Barrow has authorized the Ecomig force to stay in the country until the situation is fully stabilized. Barrow is likely to create a secret service department for the security of senior officials, diplomats and state properties.
At least 3,000 remains out of the 7,000 that were deployed last month would remain in the Gambia, most of them from Senegal, the Gambia’s neighbor, who had intervened in the coutry in 1981 to end the rebellion that nearly brought the rule of post-independence President Dawda Jawara to an end.