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Gambia president plans massive overhaul, but keeps secret police

The Gambia's President Adama Barrow arrives to speaks at his first press conference in The Gambia, as the country's newly elected leader, on January 28, 2017 in Banjul. West African nations plan to scale back a military force that secured the return to The Gambia of new President Adama Barrow to take power, the force commander said January 27. The mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc will see "a progressive reduction" in numbers, Senegalese General Francois Ndiaye said in a statement a day after the newly elected leader flew back to his homeland. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

The Gambia’s President Adama Barrow arrives to speaks at his first press conference in The Gambia, as the country’s newly elected leader, on January 28, 2017 in Banjul. West African nations plan to scale back a military force that secured the return to The Gambia of new President Adama Barrow to take power, the force commander said January 27. The mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc will see “a progressive reduction” in numbers, Senegalese General Francois Ndiaye said in a statement a day after the newly elected leader flew back to his homeland.<br />CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

Gambian President Adama Barrow said Saturday that every aspect of his tiny west African state would need an overhaul after ex-leader Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule, but that its dread secret police would remain.

Barrow faces an uphill task after taking over from Jammeh, who left behind a dysfunctional economy and allegedly emptied state coffers ahead of his departure.

Rights group blame the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) under his longtime control for forced disappearances and torture. Barrow said the NIA was “an institution that has to continue”, but that its name would be changed and training would be given to its operatives.

“The rule of the law, that will be the order of the day,” he said. Barrow also addressed one of Jammeh’s most controversial declarations, from 2015, that The Gambia was an “Islamic republic”.

Barrow, in contrast, insisted the country — whose population is 90 percent Muslim, with the rest Christian and animist — was a republic, “not the Islamic republic”.

Civil servants would likely return to a five-day work week, breaking with Jammeh’s rule that Friday was a day off in line with his Islamic republic rules.

“My government is going to look at every avenue and there will be a complete overhaul of the system,” Barrow said, speaking at his first press conference since arriving back from Senegal on Thursday.

The president promised his cabinet would be named early next week so that he could “get the ball rolling”, adding he would receive the first comprehensive information about the state of the nation’s finances also on Monday or Tuesday.

Jammeh has been accused by a Barrow aide of taking $11 million from the state coffers before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea, and diplomats have said the country was already in a precarious financial state.

Barrow’s first cabinet pick, Vice President Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, has caused controversy as she is allegedly too old to serve, according to current constitutional rules.

Asked about reform of The Gambia’s army, whose poor reputation is partly responsible for the presence of 4,000 west African troops to guarantee Barrow and the population’s safety, the president said he expected foreign nations to provide help.

“In the army, if we need technical aid, we will contact countries that are willing to help us,” he said. Controversial army chief Ousman Badjie would however keep his job, he said. There was “no time set” for the west African force to leave, Barrow added.

In this article:
Adama BarrowYahya Jammeh


9 Comments
  • Nwaizu Ikechukwu Bruno

    Another Smart ruler hm! Retain the military head and secret police. What a michevellan move to consolidate power. One despot out another in.

    • Rev

      Exactly…hoodwinking a vulnerable people eager for “Change”

  • Nwaizu Ikechukwu Bruno

    Mr President, lest I forget, are you pregnant or is it sign of mekwe. Kindly look after yourself, if what I see in the picture is your stomach.

  • Nigerian Community in Mauritan

    Good

  • Naijaman

    To keep the Army Chief, Ousman Badjie, and the leadership of the NIA would constitute Barrow’s first strategic mistake. There has got to be a total house cleaning in order to rid the system of any vestiges of the Jammeh elements. There’s gotta be total and unabridged loyalty in all force commands, and the only way to guarantee that is to have new and trusted leadership.

    • Love Obayomi

      Adama B is applying the rules of power. Keep your enemy in a strategic position and he w b loyal to you.
      A trusted frd w betray u

      • Naijaman

        You don’t know jack about the “rule of power.” Ask Buhari why he weeded out all the military & police brass, including people in strategic govt institutions.

        • Love Obayomi

          U talked as if Nigeria is a normal country. A country where the president could not produced his waec. Certificate. No know law or rule has ever worked in Nigeria.
          Nigeria as a nation defies the basic law of humanity. How did a coup plotter , a certificate less man defeat a phd holder in a normal circumstance?

          • Naijaman

            Olodo! You are asking how, abi? It happened because of people such as you who consider yourselves educated, but are as illiterate and vacuous as a well dried up head of cocoa nut. You can’t even write a simple English sentence. From where do you draw your impetus to rail on the president? Better watch ya a$$, ya pathetic mor0n!

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