Gambia trains police on VIP protection as govt distances army from politics

Gambia trains police on VIP protection as govt distances army from politics

Gambia’s government is training its police officers on VIP protecting as the West African country distances its army from politics amid reforms in its security services.

The country’s president, Adama Barrow disbanded the elite presidential guard, which has been the most powerful unit of the Gambia’s army under the ousted ruler, Yahya Jammeh.

The presidential guard unit (State Guards) is accused of committing abuses for Jammeh and had a special black-ops team, which carried out covert operations targeting Jammeh’s political foes.

The State Guard was filled with Jammeh’s loyalists, who had helped him thwart at least a dozen coup attempts. Since Barrow defeated Jammeh, he has been protected by West African troops supported by the country’s Police Intervention Unit.

The Turkish government, which suppressed a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had sent a special unit to train the Gambia’s police in protecting VIPs and state properties this year.

Barrow returned from Turkey last month, where energy and security cooperation was the center of talks between him and Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Since then, a Turkish power ship and its police have been to The Gambia.

At least a dozen soldiers have been arrested for trying to oust Barrow just six months into his rule last year and discontent remains as those suspected of being loyal to Jammeh try to hold on to their influence in the army.

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