EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: The entire mandate of the Economic Community of West African States Military Intervention in The Gambia (ECOMIG) troops is entirely funded by the European Union (EU) through the African Peace Facility, the Union’s Ambassador in The Gambia Atilla Lajos told Eye Africa’s Sanna Camara in an interview this week.
Mr. Lajos could not certainly give the exact figure of the fund but said it is between seven and eight million Euros. He said political impasse happened in the country and there was an intervention authorized by the West African regional bloc, Ecowas head of states. “After the intervention, the mandate of the ECOMIG troops still remains and was later extended because of the circumstances. The EU was interested in assisting African countries to solve African problems because at the end of the day, we all can be proud of what happened because we are protecting people.”
He said the African Union (AU) and Ecowas has achieved the maintenance of peace and obviously under the circumstance, no new government would have been in the position to sponsor such an undertaken. “Luckily, there is African Peace Facility through the EU to provide the entire funding of the mandate of the troops.”
According to Ambassador Lajos, the current mandate of the ECOMIG troops will come to end in May, this year and by then; there would be serious discussions and assessment of the entire situation in the country.
He believes that to extend the mandate again, it has to be understood what the purpose of the troops in the country would be but said what is more important is the review of the country’s security sector to ensure that short-term reforms are going to be implemented in the entire security sector and to modernize the sector and to make sure that taxpayers money are well delivered.
Ambassador Lajos said reforming the security sector inevitably requires right-sizing, saying the reform process is important because at the end of the day, Gambia’s security should be able to carry out their mandate when the presence of the ECOMIG forces will not be necessary in the country. “Everything is important but the security aspect of the country is extremely important.”
He said the government is not left alone, saying there are partners interested to help the government and in a meaningful and constructive partnership, government would be abler to carry out the reforms. “Everyone knows that the current security situation in the country is not sustainable because it is not affordable especially under the current economic and political situation. This is not something the country can just get easy, like copy and paste.”
The ECOMIG troops presence in the country came after former President Yahya Jammeh insistence to leave office last January after his 22 years rule of the tiny West African nation after he was defeated by Adama Barrow.
Mr. Jammeh conceded defeat after the election commission announce Mr. Barrow as winner of the last December Presidential election but on December 5th, he refused to step down after the election commission made a rectification of counting error that emernated from the Upper River Region. This led to an impasse that saw ECOWAS send negation team in the country led by Nigeria ‘ s president Muhammad Buhari.