The European Union has taken part in talks with the Gambia’s President Adama Barrow to help the West African nation’s government with reforming its security services.
The West African nation avoided civil war after the inaction of its military led to the deployment of regional troops to force the former president, Yahya Jammeh to leave.
Gambia’s security forces, especially the military’s presidential guard has been implicated in human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial executions.
Jammeh is said to still have loyalists in the army, which has backed his regime throughout his 22-year iron-fist rule. The army helped entrench the self-serving ruler thwarting at least nine coup attempts.
Soldiers were seen crying as Jammeh boarded an unmarked chartered plane in January, fleeing to the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea.
A military source told local newspaper, Foroyaa that foreign mercenaries and civilians have been conscripted into the army to spy on officers and commit human rights violations.
Activists say Jammeh had also enlisted a group of youths from his APRC party called the Green Boys, who have strong ties and loyalties to the former leader.
Some of Jammeh’s loyalist in the army have fled and the former rule left the country with at least four of his most trusted generals.
Some 14 members of Jammeh’s special forces implicated in human rights abuses are being detained by the military. According to the military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Omar Bojang, they are helping with investigations that so far helped to uncover mass graves.
Barrow says he wants the military to be transformed into a professional army. The UK, France and Russia all made known their intention to help train Gambian soldiers.
Activists have, however, opposed Russia’s involvement with Gambia’s military over human rights concerns in Moscow.
Gambia’s neighbors are faced with threats of terrorism. At least one of its citizens have appeared in an Islamic State group propaganda video threatening attacks on Western capitals.
The country was marked unsafe for terror threats during the political crisis sparked by Jammeh’s refusal to leave. Senegalese authorities have arrested two terror suspects linked to attacks on hotels in Mali and Ivory Coast heading to Gambia.
Gambia is a famous tourist destination for British citizens and Scandanavians. Its cheap inclusive holiday packages and all year around sun attracts tourists escaping Europea’s brutal winter weather.