Two prominent Gambian political activists have welcomed the sacking of the army Chief of Defense Staff Masanneh Kinteh. Retired Army Captain and the former Junta spokesman Ebou Jallow is one of those hailing the President’s decision to fire Kinteh. Jallow argues that Kinteh was the wrong pick for the post of CDS, and his firing was long overdue. His colleague political activist Pa Samba Jaw, AKA Coach, a Gambian based in Washington DC, also said he welcomed Kinteh’s removal. Like Jallow, Jaw said Kinteh was the wrong person to occupy that prestigious position at the army.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has fired his Army Chief of Defense Staff. Lieutenant General Masanneh Kinteh’s firing was announced on Wednesday, in a statement issued by the President’s Office. Pa Nderry M’Bai, has been following the story from Raleigh, North Carolina, and he reports:
The Army Chief of Defense Staff Masanneh Kinteh has finally been fired. No reason was given for his removal.
A statement from the President’s Office said the President had acted on powers conferred on him by the constitution to relieve Kinteh of his duties. Kinteh has been replaced by his Deputy Major General Yankuba Drammeh.
Ebou Jallow is a retired Gambian army Captain. Jallow is also the spokesperson for the former Gambian military junta.
“This was well overdue. We have been raising this issue with your online radio—Freedom radio for a longtime. We highlighted the issues that intricate with his hiring as the commander of Chief of Defense staff because this is a man, whose career was sponsored and patronized by the former dictatorship—Yahya Jammeh,” Jallow said.
Jallow said Kinteh was also a close buddy of the Junta’s former Defense Minister Edward Singhateh. Singhateh later became the Vice Chairman of the defunct AFPRC regime. He was named in the murder of the late Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay, and the massacre of November 11th 1994 army alleged coupists.
Kinteh’s removal followed damning revelations made by the US based Gambian online Newspaper—Freedom Newspaper, in which the paper had exposed allegations of corruption at the army. The army chief had been traveling on expensive business class tickets, claiming nine days per diem allowance during his recent trip to the United Nations, among other disturbing allegations.
“This is a guy, who will in anyway or no way sponsor or be a factor that is going to transform that army of a post-dictatorship regime. So, it was very, very unwise for the Coalition government to retain Masanneh Kinteh services as the Chief of Defense Staff. It was a terrible mistake,” the former Junta spokesman lamented.
Pa Samba Jaw is a Gambian political analyst. Jaw says allegations of corruption shouldn’t be brush under the carpet.
“Corruption should not be encouraged in a country. If it is alleged that he was corrupt, I hope that they would get to the bottom of it,” Jaw remarked.
The army, under Kinteh’s leadership had witnessed a massive turnover in recent months. Soldiers have been leaving the force because of low staff morale and poor working conditions.
Analyst Pa Samba Jaw is of the view that Kinteh’s departure would facilitate a proper security reform.
“Well I hope it means something better because definitely if you look at The Gambia armed forces is like the reforms that we were expecting to happen didn’t take place. It looks like Masanneh Kinteh, who was acting like pretty much a co-president in that country with his convoy that everybody was complaining about; that was the only thing he was famous for; there was nothing tangible that anybody could look at and say he is doing to at least give us a more professional army,” Jaw said.
Notwithstanding, Jaw is opportunistic that Kinteh’s successor would transform the army into a more professional security outfit.
“Yankuba Drammeh, he seems to be a very levelheaded guy. I interacted with him a few times and I find him to be very, very smart. I hope that at least he would take the concerns of the army seriously; look at our army and we need to have serious reforms in the army,” Mr. Jaw remarked.
Major Lamin Sanyang is the Spokesperson for The Gambia Armed Forces.
“I can confirm that he has been removed from his appointment as the Chief of Defense Staff of The Gambian armed forces and has been redeployed to the Foreign Service,” Major Sanyang remarked.
Sanyang says he was not in the position to confirm as to whether Kinteh’s removal has to do with alleged corruption or not.
“I don’t have any information that effect. As far as I know, this is what I can confirm for now. I don’t know the reason behind his removal,” Sanyang said.
Sanyang also said he doesn’t know why Kinteh has been removed. “That is yet to be known,” he said.
The sacked Army chief had survived plots on his life. Four soldiers were dismissed from the army in October of 2019, after been accused of plotting to kill CDS Masanneh Kinteh.