President Adama Barrow has announced that he would commence sweeping reforms of the nations intelligence and security apparatus to ensure transparency and freedom. Part of his new reforms will be a departure from the former name – Islamic Republic of Gambia.
Mr. Barrow spoke at his first news conference since returning to the country. He announced plans to rename the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a dreaded secret police accused by rights groups of forced disappearances and torture under the control of former leader Yahya Jammeh.
“The rule of the law, that will be the order of the day,” he said, adding that training would be given to NIA’s operatives.”
In his news conference, Barrow also said he would ensure press freedom in the country and said that his cabinet picks would have to declare their assets before assuming office.
He promised his cabinet would be named early next week so that he could “get the ball rolling”, adding he would receive the first comprehensive information about the state of the nation’s finances also on Monday or Tuesday.
Jammeh has been accused by a Barrow aide of taking $11m from the state coffers before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea, and diplomats have said the country was already in a precarious financial state.
Barrow also said the country’s official name will no longer contain the word “Islamic”, which had been added by Jammeh in 2015.
The new president said The Gambia, whose population is 90 percent Muslim, with the rest Christian and animist, was a republic and not an Islamic state as had been the previous official appendage.
Yaya Jammeh, who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years and refused to give up power after losing the December 1 presidential election, eventually fled after facing strong opposition from regional leaders.