President Adama Barrow

(JollofNews) – Visiting students from the UK’s Royal College of Defence Studies Wednesday paid a courtesy call on Gambia’s president Adama Barrow.

The visit was part of a sub-regional study tour of the students, currently on a masters level peace course on how nations achieve security, stability and prosperity.

President Barrow told the students that no country should experience the challenges that the Gambia went through, particularly during the political impasse that followed the nation’s December 2016 elections.

The president said under the former regime, some of the Gambian security forces served only the leader rather than the nation.  He added that the military and the police had been merged and this created some indiscipline in the armed forces.

President Barrow said he is optimistic about international support for security sector reforms, which would include both infrastructure and training. He spoke of the political will and determination of his government to ensure that the Gambia maintain disciplined and professional security forces in a democratic environment.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Major General Craig Lawrence who led the students, explained that the meeting provided the students with an overview of the kinds of challenges that can be encountered, and how they, as students from 13 developed and developing countries could learn from the Gambia’s experience to make their countries more secure, stable and prosperous.

Major General Lawrence noted that the hierarchy of the Gambia’s presidential system was similar to that of other African countries like Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra-Leone, where the power of the individual leader drove the country forward.

He said the students were very keen to understand the organization of a state, the role of institutions like the justice and foreign ministries, and the armed forces in the development of the country.

Gambian deputy chief of defence staff, Yankuba Drammeh, said the Gambian Armed Forces had gone through difficult times and now needed to move forward as an institution.

He acknowledged that it would take considerable time to refocus and redirect the thinking of the armed forces.

Expanding on President Barrow’s earlier remarks, Major General Drammeh described plans to undertake security sector reforms aimed at shaping an armed forces that would be responsive to the needs and aspirations of Gambians.

He said it would also be an armed forces that would be accountable to civil authority and grounded in the rule of law and international standards.

He expressed hope that with commitment and determination within the armed forces, and political support, the armed forces will achieve its desired goal as an institution and redeem its image.