An ongoing peacekeeping mission by the regional ECOMIG forces in The Gambia has been extended by a year, local reports suggest, quoting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday.Ecomig forces will thus stay in the country beyond December 2021, and will morph into a police mission through the course of the next twelve months.
Ecomig forces comprising mainly Senegalese, Nigerian, Ghanaian, Malian and Togolese troops were deployed in The Gambia in 2017, shortly after a post-electoral crisis followed the shock election defeat of Yahya Jammeh by current President Adama Barrow.
Since then the Ecomig mission’s stay in the country has been extended five times as President Barrow’s government undertake a comprehensive reform of the security forces, which were seen as notorious instruments of coercion and torture by ex-President Jammeh who is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea.
The latest decision to extend Ecomig’s stay by the West African regional grouping was made at the 58th Ordinary Session of the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government held via videoconferencing over the weekend.
President Barrow said his government needs more time to rejig “the mission, structures, mindsets and culture of security institutions, to make them more responsive, affordable, and accountable based on democratic norms and principles”.
Code-named Operation Restore Democracy, the Ecomig mission began with at least 4000 troops from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Togo after Jammeh fled into exile in January 2017.