The United Nations has committed itself to assisting The Gambia to reconfigure its army after emerging from a 22-year brutal dictatorship that put its citizens at crossroads.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow announced a new military program that will see the army overhauled and other security agencies revamped, eight months after assuming power.
“The security sector reform process ought to be inclusive and participatory, with the aim of making justice and security institutions accessible and responsive to the needs and rights of all Gambians,” said Mohammed Ibn Chambas, UN envoy for Western Africa.
The UN and rights groups documented abuses committed by the Gambia’s security forces, especially the army and its intelligence agency. They were used by Jammeh to instill fear in the population.
Rights defenders, pro-democracy campaigners, political opponents, and journalists were arbitrarily arrested, detained incommunicado, tortured, and killed by his security forces.
More than two dozen soldiers have been arrested following Jammeh’s ouster for committing human rights abuses and crimes against the state.
President Barrow noted the importance of reforming and transforming the country’s security sector into a functional and effective one that delivers for the good of the Gambian people.
“The security sector reform process will enable us to once again take charge of our own security and destiny,” said Mr. Barrow.
“When my administration was sworn in last January, it was clear to us that we were taking over a security sector that had been deeply politicised and not responsive to the needs of our people.”
Gambia’s neighbors stepped in to oust Jammeh after the army stayed out of the power struggle that followed the former long-serving ruler’s election defeat.
They are now helping to stabilize the West African nation, where an attempt has already being made by some soldiers loyal to Mr. Jammeh to revolt against Barrow’s rule.