The West African nation of The Gambia will on Tuesday start implementing its security sector reform, eight months after the ouster of autocratic strongman, Yahya Jammeh.
President Adama Barrow will be launching the reform program, which would see the Gambia’s Army weeding out Jammeh’s loyalists and the new leader taking greater control of the military.
The security sector reform will also seek to build better relations between the army and citizens, who have lost confidence and trust in the defense force.
Jammeh used the military to strengthen his oppressive grip of power, instill fear and commit human rights abuses. Since his ouster, no less than 25 soldiers were arrested for crimes against the state and murder.
Jammeh came to power as a junior military officer ousting the government of first post-colonial ruler Dawda Jawara. He enlisted supporters from a militia group backing his party into the army and promoted without merit.
Authorities in the West African nation arrested at least eight known soldiers, with some military source estimating that 17 have been arrested for mutiny.
The soldiers, one of whom alleged he was tortured by state intelligence agents, are suspected to be loyalists of ex-President Jammeh bent on destabilizing Barrow’s rule.
The arrests came amid reports that some Gambian army deserters were joining hired mercenaries for an armed opposition to reinstall Jammeh, a report that has been, for the most part, dismissed by Gambia’s Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh.
West African forces that pushed Jammeh out of power and gave control to Mr. Barrow remain in the country. Their mandate has been broadened to help stabilize the security in the country and to help with the new reform efforts.