Attila Lajos, the European Union Ambassador to Gambia, has Tuesday expressed frustration about the slow pace of reform taking place in the country’s security apparatus. He said there is “no visible reform in the last three years in the security sector.”
“What I see now is the unwillingness to prioritize areas within the security sector for fast-tracked reform,” Lajos deplored today during a one-day forum for dialogue on directing Security Sector Reform (SSR) in The Gambia.
The EU plenipotentiary’s remarks come on the heels of a meeting he had Monday with President Adama Barrow at State House in Banjul. Shortly after meeting with the Gambian leader, the envoy of the European bloc told the press corps that he has no doubt that The Gambia remains committed to democracy and the transition process.
However, Lajos warned about possible undermining of public support and the long-term sustainability of the transition process as he was addressing participants at a forum for dialogue in directing the SSR.
“I see a situation worsened by the absence of guidance and communications from the highest level,” he added.
The country’s security forces were extensively used by former President Jammeh as ‘tools of oppression’ and were behind a lot of atrocities committed by the dictatorship. The ongoing session of the truth commission has ended up convincing many sceptics about the gruesome crimes carried out by Yahya Jammeh’s kill team.
The EU top official in the country commended Gambia gov’t for endorsing the country’s first ever National Security Policy. But he was quick to add: “The Executive must commit to a time-bounded framework to deliver reform.”
This must include, he went on, a clear indication, based on available financial and institutional data, as to how the government will rationalise the sector over the years to come.
Mai Ahmad Fatty, a top aide to President Barrow, told The Associated Press news agency that the SSR is on course, and knocked down the idea pushed by critics who are saying that the process is not on the right track.
“I would admit that it has not had the traction that is desirable towards the pace at which the reform is expected to be implemented,” he conceded.
He then added that most countries must have gone through the same process after experiencing dictatorship, war or civil strife.
‘For The Gambia, we had a smooth transition, what we need to do now is to make sure that we are able to reorient the national security apparatus to serve a democratic dispensation,” he said.
The forum was held at Metzy hotel, and was graced by top officials from the Presidency, gov’t and other security institutions.
Written by Abdoulie John
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