Souza: ECOWAS to take lead in reforming Gambia’s army

Souza: ECOWAS to take lead in reforming Gambia’s army

West African forces will be helping in reforming the Gambia’s police and military, regional bloc President Marcel de Souza said.

Souza, the ECOWAS Commission President was in Banjul where he met with the country’s new leader President Adama Barrow, whom the regional bloc helped to install.

ECOWAS deployed 7,000 troops to The Gambia to enforce the outcome of the country’s December election after ousted autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh lost the polls and refused to cede power.

The deployment of foreign forces was largely in part of the Gambia’s military refusal to force Jammeh to leave. Gambia’s former army chief Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie had flip-flopped on who he pledged his allegiance to. He, however, refused to give orders to his men to defend Jammeh, saying he is not “stupid to endanger his men over a political matter.”

Gambia’s military has been accused of gross human rights violations. President Barrow has replaced Gen. Bargie with another former military chief, who served for a few weeks as his National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh.

President Barrow has pledged to reform the military during his campaign. Vetting of Gambian security forces has started amid fears that former President Jammeh has loyalist and non-citizens embedded within the security services.

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