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The Gambia Seeks ECOWAS’ Support To Overhaul Security, Economic Sectors



The Republic of The Gambia has called on ECOWAS to assist in the overhaul of its security sector which have been highly polarized and partisan for the past 22 years by the ousted Yahya Jammeh’s administration.

The country is also set to address the issue of terms of office (presidential tenure) in the country’s highly anticipated constitution review, as well as roll out measures to tackle the nation’s $56.5bn debt.

Speaking to the media, the leader of the Gambia’s delegate to the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Kebba Barrow, said Gambia needs ECOWAS’s support in the restructuring of its military which has been polarized and partisan in the past 22 years under the leadership of the impeached president Yahya Jammeh.

Although countrywide consultations have been carried out on the issue, Barrow believes that with ECOWAS’s support in the overhaul of the Gambia’s security sector, the sector’s activity can be reviewed and streamlined to function more professionally in the future.

“For many years, the military was only listening to one person. Theu were not working as per their terms of reference as members of the security sector. So, all the instructions and operations were coming from one man. What we need now is to have an army or police force, that will be more professional in the execution of their duties in line with other security agencies.

Barrow stressed that over 50 percent of the security sector are loyal to the former president rather than the state and it will take some time for the country’s security to be professionalized.

“The military was not the only sector negatively impacted by the past administration, but also Gambia’s economy. President Adama Barrow’s new administration inherited a $56.5bn debt from its predecessor. This means a 120 per cent of the country’s annual Gross Domestic Products (GDP). While the government via its central bank is rolling out measures to optimize the nation’s financial resources, the Gambia also relies heavily on aid to stabilize the economy. Barrow says the Gambia is accessing aid from the World bank and the IMF via the structural adjustment arm”.

“IMF, World Bank and other donors are giving budgetary support to The Gambia. Those budgetary supports are concessional which are grants, mainly grants that are helping to restructure the programmes and the budget structure of the country.

They are very happy with what The Gambia is doing, and the structural adjustments that the new government is taking are in line with the protocols and some of the rules of the IMF and the World Bank. But, we need to have very good laws in place so that we have good financial management systems in both our commercial and other institutions especially the Central Bank of The Gambia.”

Meantime, the Gambia will address the issue of terms of office in its upcoming constitution review.

Fielding questions from ECOWAS Parliamentarians at the ongoing First Ordinary Session, the Gambia delegates, Hons. Kebba Barrow, Samba Jallow, Muhammed Magassy and Mahtarr Jeng, said terms of office was a key part of the country’s forthcoming constitutional review.

The government they said has established a constitutional review commission to chair the review.

Barrow said term limit was cited in the Gambian constitution until 1996 when it was expunged by then Yahya Jammeh administration. Any new ‘term of office’ decided by the commission, Barrow said, will be a permanent clause, that regardless the government that resumes office, the clause cannot be changed unless through a referendum.

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