Russia’s army will join a list of foreign military forces that have pledged to train the Gambia’s security forces after a Kremlin special envoy, Mickhai Bagnodov held talks with Foreign Secretary Ousainou Darboe.
Russia and The Gambia entered a defense agreement on military cooperation in September last year, four months after the West African nation opened its embassy in Moscow.
The defense agreement with Moscow was to give The Gambia’s army training and technical aid. But activists, concerned about human rights abuses, were afraid The Gambia’s army may also get military equipment from Russia.
Gambia is struggling to reform and rebrand its military. Since the departure of ousted commander-in-chief, Yahya Jammeh, the UK and France made known their intention to start training Gambia’s army.
British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson had already visited The Gambia and French leader, Francois Hollande met with new President Adama Barrow twice. Hollande also sent a special military envoy to meet Barrow in talks where security cooperation have been the focus.
Gambia is about to start vetting its military. Jammeh is suspected of recruiting foreign fighters and unqualified supporters into the army to back his regime.
The military’s inaction to force him to flee after losing elections was largely responsible for the deployment of regional troops. The military is trying to regain the confidence of the citizens, who had for long feared them for their brutality.