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Soldiers Cautioned Against Factionalism and Regionalism as Gambia Launches First Ever Security Policy

The Chairperson of the Steering Committee on Security Sector Reforms, and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou Monday cautioned members of the Gambia Armed Forces against factionalism, regionalism or other forms of patronage as the government launched the first-ever National Security Policy (NSP).

A cross-section of participants at the launch of the NSP

At the launching ceremony, Tambadou described the policy as the foundation of all other security policies, strategies and plans from which all the national security services shall derive their doctrines.

“The National Security Policy is the overarching policy framework for the comprehensive national security reform process that aims to maintain, safeguard and defend the national core-value which will ensure to safety, security and prosperity of The Gambia as a an independent, peaceful, safe and stable country.”

Government officials and stakeholders at the NSP launch

Taking into accounts the brutal record of the last regime, Tambadou acknowledged that members of the Gambia Armed Forces were instrumental in the execution of some major atrocities. “There were been failings in the past when some of them did not live up to expectations and we cannot deny this obvious fact. Naturally, this has created mistrust between our armed forces and the people it seeks to protect and serve.”

But according to him, the majority of GAF members were not found wanting in such conducts, describing those as honest and hardworking people. “Let me make this clear that The Gambia Armed Forces are our armed forces. They are the people’s armed forces, and they are not enemies of the people. But the reality is that in every society, every community, and every organization – professional or otherwise, there are bad elements. And so this is not unique to our armed forces.”

“The fact remains that the absolute majority of the members of our armed forces are hardworking, honest and dedicated professional men and women who on a daily basis put their lives at risk so that the rest of us and our families can live in a peaceful, safe and secure environment. They deserve our respect.”

However, Minister Tambadou cautioned that in the new dispensation, members of the Gambia Armed Forces must serve all Gambians equally by learning from mistakes made in the past. He warned that in the new security dispensation, security personnel, particularly the army must remove all factionalism, regionalism or other forms of patronage and loyalty to serve their country. He also called on them to discourage tribal inclination that could compromise the peace and security of the country.

President Barrow waving the NSP document

President Adama Barrow said NSP will put the country towards securing the territory, the people, welfare and everything that belongs to Gambians.

“It will result in a security and justice system that is more responsive to The Gambia’s needs. This is what the attainment of the national security vision is about; establishing a safe and secure environment for the people of The Gambia.”

According Barrow, the NSP sets out the directions the government will take to safeguard the Gambian people and natural resources.

“The policy sufficiently provides a robust, coherent and strategic approach to respond collectively to national security threats through swift decision-making processes, clear lines of accountability and responsibility, prompt execution of action and commitment to building the nation’s resilience to crime.”

Mai Ahmad Fatty, a presidential adviser said The Gambia must aspire to be the most powerful force for peace, security and universal values of freedoms and democracy through regional integration. He told the gathering that African integration comes with some security challenges such as extreme nationalism, terrorism, crime, environmental damage and the complex flow of trade and investments that know no borders.

“The new National Security Policy in summary is anchored on three co-objectives; to protect our democracy and by extension promote democracy in Africa. Second; to enhance our security. And third; to bolster Gambia’s economic prosperity.”

Momodou Badjie and President Barrow

Also addressing the gathering, the National Security Adviser Momodou Badjie said the policy detailed out the current and future risks, opportunities, threats, and challenges the country face, and identified basic areas of national security, including the instruments of national power.

Badjie was one time one of the most prominent and senior members of the Gambian army under ex-president Yahya Jammeh.

The drafting of the National Security Strategic is current underway for the smooth implementation of the National Security Policy.

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