Dr Binneh Minteh

(JollofNews) – The extension by ECOWAS of the mandate of its military force (ECOMIG) for another 12 months in the Gambia is paramount to regional security.

In addition to peace enforcement efforts, ECOMIG is also mandated to play a pivotal role in the reforms and training of the Gambian Armed forces.

The decision by the regional body is inline with security policy efforts to transform a “patrimonial military institution” under decades long criminal states, to an “institutionalize military institution”.

A patrimonial military is one defined by ethnic and tribal favoritism, not rule bound and promotion and recruitment are not based on merit but by ethnicity and loyalty to the leader. Conversely, an institutionalize military is rule bound; recruitment and promotion are based on merit.

Arguably, two decades of criminal state governance in the Gambia, reduced the Gambian Military to a patrimonial institution. ECOMIG role in reforming the Gambian Armed Forces is therefore critical to consolidating the new Gambian Democratic Dispensation.

Similarly, extension of the mandate provides an opportunity to effectively deal with the lawlessness by roving criminals and bandits along the Gambia – Senegal border of the Casamance region. ECOMIG must secure the troubled border for lasting peace in the greater Senegambia region.

In a region threatened by terrorist and international criminal syndicates intermittently operating in the region (Burkina- Faso, Ivory-Coast, Mali and Nigeria), extension of the ECOMIG mandate will not only stabilize the Gambia, but contain the cross border lawlessness along the Gambia- Senegal border of Casamance to prevent these groups from tapping into security vulnerabilities.

By Dr Binneh S Minteh