Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has asked the West African powerhouse, ECOWAS to deploy more troops to his nation amid efforts to overcome apparent security challenges.
Following failed mediation efforts, Barrow, 52, took over the country after a political standoff that warranted the deployment of West African troops to remove Jammeh and have him installed.
According to an official in the State House [the equivalent of the White House], Mr. Barrow made request following a security assessment and consultation with advisors and international partners.
The number of West African troops, initially at 7,000 mostly from Senegal and Nigeria were reduced about two months after Jammeh was pushed into exile. But Mr. Barrow extended and widened their mandate after violent opposition protests in the southwestern region of Foni, Jammeh’s native homeland.
Security specialists have credited Gambia’s stability largely to the presence of the regional troops. There have been reports of potential external armed opposition to Barrow’s rule from Jammeh’s loyalists that have deserted the army and camping in neighboring nations.
Barrow already survived a failed coup plot. A dozen soldiers loyal to ex-President Jammeh allegedly planned a revolt against him just five months into his rule. They are facing treason and mutiny charges.
President Barrow, who never held public office before and regarded a political novice admitted battling with security challenges. He has jumpstarted a security reform program but a recent security breach has thrown into question his ability to keep citizens safe.
Two former trusted generals at the helm of Gambia’s most wanted list entered the country through the airport without red flags being raised. Gen. Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba fled the country with Jammeh last year.
They were arrested by Gambian military police on Sunday and are now in military custody. The two ex-generals are accused of a number of atrocities under the former autocratic ruler.
Gambians are asking how the two wanted men evaded airport security on to reach their homes where they were arrested on Sunday. Army Chief Gen. Masanneh Kinteh said they are trying to investigate how they entered the country and their motive for coming back despite their outstanding arrest warrants.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Editing by Assan Sallah)