A shake-up of top-level officers in the Gambia’s army that has seen the vast majority replaced, apparently to sanitize the military has been carried out.
The Gambia’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Massaneh Kinteh has promoted several soldiers and replaced the military commanders of all barracks across the country, military sources confirmed.
As part of the shake-up, three military commanders were replaced, including a colonel, Essa Tamba that joined West African forces to enter the country to oust Jammeh.
Col. Essa Tamba the commander of Fajara Barack, is now replaced by Lt Col. Yerro Jallow, to be assisted by Major Seedia Danso.
Col. Sait Njie commander of Yundum Barack, is now replaced by Lt. Col. Babucarr sanyang, to be assisted by Major Abdoulie Manneh.
Col. Salifu Bojang commander of Farafenni Barack, is now replaced by Lt. Col. Samba Baldeh, to be assisted by Major Ebrima Krubally.
The Army Chief Intelligence Officer has also been replaced and all replaced commanders have been recalled to the military head office.
Gambia’s army was weakened by Jammeh’s attempt to ideologize it and make it party-dependent. He enlisted a group of militiamen from his Green Youths group.
Rights campaigners have been demanding for President Adama Barrow to weed the army of loyalist of the former autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh.
The army’s top brass until yesterday’s shakeup were all handpicked and appointed by Mr. Jammeh.
Many of Jammeh’s actions undermined both morale and the modernization effort within the army and many are now hopeful that Jammeh’s influence is not strong enough to influence defense capabilities after the ECOMIG exit.
Jammeh and his henchmen orchestrated decades of civil human rights violations against citizens and dissenting voices.
Jammeh’s politicization of the army and stuffing it with loyalists has been one of his biggest points of friction with opposition politicians and rights defenders.
They are demanding that Barrow reforms the military and justice system to avoid a repetition of the decades-long repression that happened under Jammeh.
Gambia’s military has been alleged to have committed human rights abuses and backed Jammeh’s oppression of citizens.
Gambia military officials have been implicated in trafficking of drugs and other illegal activities, pursuits that Gen. Kinteh strongly warned against.
The military had dismissed charges of corruption as empty accusations propagated by Jammeh’s political opponents during the ex-ruler’s reign.
The opposition boycotted local government elections in 2012, saying voting procedures heavily favor the government amid accusations that government used soldiers to transport ballot boxes and steal votes.
(Reporting by Lamin Jassey; Writing by Sam Phatey; Editing by Sainey Marenah)