President Adama Barrow has called the Gambia’s security services “polluted” vowing to overhaul the entire system and separate the roles of the police and the military.
Barrow, 52, defeated longtime Gambian ruler, Yahya Jammeh last year in an election that shocked the world and turned out to be democracy’s biggest victory in 2016.
“The President said the whole system needs to be overhauled because it is polluted,” said Amie Bojang-Sisohore, the State House Press Secretary.
“The President expressed the need for separation of roles between the police and the armed forces according to the different units.”
West African troops were deployed to the Gambia to enforce the outcome of the elections, for the most part, due to the Gambia’s military’s inaction to end the political standoff sparked by Jammeh’s refusal to cede power.
Gambia’s security forces, especially the army and riot police have been implicated in human rights violations. The military has backed Jammeh’s dictatorship and accused of carrying out most of the torture and killings ordered by Jammeh against his political opponents and perceived enemies.
The role of the police was often overridden and played by the military and the National Intelligence Agency. They helped strengthen Jammeh’s repressive regime rule, instilling fear in the people.
The former government is suspected of recruiting foreigners and members of a youth militia group called the Green Boys into the army.
Barrow has promised to reform the army and a vetting process to weed out unqualified soldiers and those recruited without improperly.
Gambia’s international partners met with Mr. Barrow last week to show readiness to support the Gambia’s transition program. The EU, UN, AU and ECOWAS have pledged to help with the new government’s security reform agenda.
“It has raised our hopes,” said Bojang-Sishore. “Their coming demonstrates their belief in his government’s mission.”
Gambia’s President Barrow has called for training and financial support for the security services. So far, France, UK and Russia have tipped off Banjul of their willingness to help. They have all sent envoys, who have met with Mr. Barrow.