In Meeting with Army High Command, President Barrow Urges Loyalty to State

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By Ebrima G. Sankareh, Editor-In-Chief

Following the aftermath of a widely reported fracas among members of the Presidential guards and their Senegalese colleagues on the ECOMIG contingent coupled with the general feeling of a state of lapsed national security due to routine incidents of armed robberies, Gambian President Adama Barrow, has admonished security forces to ‘respect the verdict of history’ and demonstrate unalloyed loyalty to the state and the Gambian people. Lest we forget, the high-profile meeting between the Head of state and the Military High Command follows the most embarrassing security breach thus far, the return of two errant Generals who had abandoned their posts and fled with exiled despot Yaya Jammeh. The duo returned to The Gambia through the airport and instead of apprehending and questioning the renegades, they were treated like royalty returning from an African safari.

In a press dispatch sent moments ago, the President’s Press officer quotes Mr. Barrow as having told Army Chief of Staff, General Massaneh Kinteh and colleagues last night that, “We won the war, let us maintain the peace and collaborate with others like ECOWAS.”

Crucially, the war metaphor is an allusion to the contentious December 2016 Presidential election that saw the tiny West African state teetering on the brink of political chaos as a defeated tyrant, Yaya Jammeh, conceded losing the electoral battle only to backpedal some 360°. The brief, yet nerve-wrecking interregnum, the now so-called ‘Gambia political impasse’, saw the best and worst of Gambian society as a handful of Jammeh loyalists heightened their sycophancy convincing the lunatic megalomaniac that the elections were rigged and either a recount or rematch was the only logical outcome. It was in the height of this lunacy that the regional West African blog, ECOWASEconomic Community of West African States following a series of failed attempts at ‘shuttle diplomacy’, hurriedly rallied forces to chase the tyrant out of Banjul.

When President Jammeh and colleagues realized the looming catastrophe hanging over State House that could potentially send them to their graves, the tyrant abdicated and the once feared Gambia Armed Forces and the predacious National Intelligence Agency; a duo that has perfected its skills in extorting, torturing, maiming and disappearing innocent citizens, finally acquiesced, albeit halfheartedly.

However, one year since ‘The Gambia impasse’, and one year since the tyrant tumbled and fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea, there remains a palpable sense of security anxiety in the poor West African state. There remains pockets of soldiers and intelligence elements who are reluctant to show total loyalty to President Barrow because during his 23 years of misrule, Yaya Jammeh stole millions of state funds and shared his loot with soldiers and intelligence officers who did his ‘dirty job’ to borrow a Gambian cliché. Unfortunately, in the Gambian political milieu, the oxymoron of military/state intelligence is all too apparent because those who process intelligence if they ever do, use it to witch hunt and destroy the people and inevitably, the state, which cannot exist absent its people. What obtains in Barrow’s New Gambia increasingly mirrors a tandem of chaos or a feeling of nervous uncertainty leaving the ordinary citizens gasping for answers.

Paradoxically, what is most intriguing under the circumstances, is President Barrow’s deliberate policy to ‘recycle’ Yaya Jammeh’s chief security enablers and their lieutenants who could not claim absolute innocence to some or all the state-sanctioned banditry under Jammeh’s tyrannical fiefdom.

Below, we reproduce verbatim, the press release on the President’s meeting with The Gambia Military High Command.

REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

Office of The President

State House

Banjul

THE GAMBIA

OP/291/249/01/PART IV (IV (17 – ABS)   

 President Barrow meets GAF’s High Command

 State House, Banjul, 10 February 2018 – President Barrow has been engaged in a series of activities at State House over the week.  The latest of his engagement was a meeting with the senior Command of the Gambia Armed Forces, on Friday, 9th February,2018.   President Barrow told the GAF high Command that the meeting was a family re-union and in a family each member has a responsibility and that goes with challenges.  He urged the GAF members to take up their role to defend the country and remain loyal to the Gambian people and the government of the day to ensure stability.  There was frank discussion and the Armed Security was urged to accept the verdict of the citizens and move on with the agenda to advance the country.  President Barrow, who doubles as Commander-in-Chief of The Gambia Armed forces, reminded the security in his assertion, “We won the war, let us maintain the peace and collaborate with others like ECOWAS.”  He emphasised the role ECOMIG continued to play during the impasse but also acknowledged the maturity the GAF displayed by respecting his order for them to stay in their barracks.  Responding to their challenges, President Barrow informed them that plans are at advanced stage to have an academy to support the capacity building of the Armed Forces.  The President stated that governance is a process and his government would do what it could to support them.  He concluded that as a leader, he wants to leave a positive legacy not by how long he stays in power but what he is able to achieve.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Massaneh N. Kinteh made a presentation of the GAF’s reform strategies, gave an overview of its history, the structures and vision.  He highlighted the re-structuring activities they undertook to strengthen the capacity of the forces, the challenges and recommendations to modernize the army.  The detailed briefing outlined logistical issues, infrastructure and other needs of the GAF.  During the interactive session, it gave opportunity for other members to express their loyalty to the country through their Commander- in- Chief, President Barrow.

Deputy, Chief of Defense Staff, Major General, Yankuba A. Drammeh gave the vote of thanks. Meanwhile, President Barrow swore-in the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mr. Lamin Samateh and Lamin Sam Jaiteh, a member during a Cabinet meeting held on Thursday, 8th February 2018.  The duo swore to the prescribed oaths of office, allegiance and secrecy to the Republic of The Gambia.  The President described them as humbled, principled and hardworking and that their service is needed as well as wished them success in their work.

The newly sworn-in Chairman Samateh committed on behalf of his colleagues to ensure that qualified people are appointed, and they would advise on the civil service reform, recruitment and retention.

The Vice President, Madam Fatoumata Tambajang on behalf of the government thanked them for honouring the appointment and advised them to comply with the oath as the work for an efficient, open and transparent civil service to deliberate on its functions.

Later that Thursday, Cabinet discussed duty waiver and tax exemption, the code of good corporate governance for state-owned enterprises in The Gambia and auctioning of government vehicles.  They also discussed amendment of the national audit office Act 2015, proposal to review the NYSS Act 2015; NEDI Act 2013; Resident’s international award scheme Act 2015; Independence Stadium and Friendship Hotel Act 1999.  A comprehensive nationwide staff audit 2017 report was also tabled in cabinet. The Cabinet meeting will continue next Thursday, 15th February 2018 and that will mark the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meetings.

Contact:

Amie Bojang-Sissoho

Director of Press & Public Relations

Office of the President, State House, Banjul

Email:absissoho@op.gov.gm

dpprop2017@gmail.com

Tel: +220 9957592

Twitter: @BarrowPresident

Twitter:@AmieBSissoho

Facebook: Barrow PORG

Website: statehouse.gov.gm

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