EYEAFRICA TV: Gambia’s president Adama Barrow Thursday announced that he has relieved his interior minister, Ebrima M Mballow and will be redeployed to Foreign Service, in a second major cabinet reshuffle since he came into power in 2016.
The latest reshuffle also saw him appoint former Ambassador to the United States and Consul General at the country’s consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Omar Faye as new defence minister.
Many have associated interior minister Mballow’s relieve to a string of panicking protests that ensued during his tenure, leading to the killing and arrest of some civilians by security officers. The protests include the Farababanta demo in June last year, when a group of angry youth of the Kombo East community clashed with paramilitary officers.
The youth were protesting against the presence of Julakay Construction Company in the village, who claim it was issued licence by the government to mine sand there. Three men were killed in the incident and several others, including PIU officers sustained injuries.
A popular pressure mounted on President Barrow to fire Mr. Mballow as interior minister for what they called his ‘inability’ to run the office of interior minister when another string of demonstrations covered Brikama and the Greater Banjul Area in July.
On July 24, a group of young people who call themselves Concern Youth planned a demonstration against the local Brikama Area Council (BAC) which the police denied them licence, leading to a demonstration. The same day, another group of angry protesters hold demonstration in the country’s must populated region, Serrekunda, leading to an attack and destruction on the home of the police anti-crime unit commander, following the death of a young man who was alleged to have been beaten by the police.
As demonstrations surge in the country, the Barrow administration announced it has purchased water cannon trucks to be use as device to shoot a high-velocity stream of water on demonstrators.
The relieved interior minister and former banker Ebrima M Mballow was quoted as saying at a June rally in Brikama that protesters would be tackled through the newly imported water cannon tank and on those bent on destabilising the country. “We will spray hot water on the troublemakers,” he was quoted as saying in the local Mandinka dialect.
President Barrow’s latest cabinet reshuffle also saw the relieving and redeployment of police chief, Yankuba Sonko as new interior minister and secretary general Ebrima O Camara and his own permanent secretary Muhammed BS Jallow, to other responsibilities.