Gambia: National Defense Drafting Committee Inaugurated

25 February 2021

National Defense Drafting Committee, tasked with the responsibility of drafting the first-ever national defense policy for The Gambia since independence was recently inaugurated at Sir Dawda K. Jawara Conference Centre.

The defense policy will be the most important document that will guide the ministry in its mandate to more effectively function as an oversight body to The Gambia Armed Forces and to ensure full civilian control over the Armed Forces as enshrined in the Security Sector Reform recommendations.

Speaking at the inauguration, Sheikh Omar Faye, minister of Defense indicated that Security Sector Reform (SSR) is largely misunderstood by a lot of people, adding that it is not an imposition on anyone in The Gambia and that it is the one of the cardinal programmes of president Adama Barrow's government that is aimed at improving the lives of Gambians.

To this end, Minister Faye believes that security is everyone's concern, noting that 'we as government ministers need to ensure its proper management. This is why the national security policy is needed.'

David Belgrove OBE, the British High Commissioner to The Gambia, underscored the importance of SSR, not just in post - conflict reconstruction, but also in conflict prevention.

"Because trust between citizens and the state is premised on the existence of institutions which serve and protect the needs of those citizens."

High Commissioner Belgrove maintained that this is an important stage in the country's transition and in consolidating gains in recent years.

"It's important for the whole of The Gambia security sector because national defense is not just about one organization, but an integrated cross government task under democratic civilian rule. I would argue that the first role is to protect the country and its people and also to protect its democratic constitution. There is also broader role in contributing to peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole."

Also speaking, Mamat O. Cham, deputy Chief of Defence Staff of The Gambia Armed Forces, said drafting a national defense policy is a necessary requirement for the organisational reforms and other transformation in move to modernise and professionalise The Gambia Armed Forces.

The national deference policy, he added, would also ensure that the law, policies and other legislations necessary for the reform process are in the tune with the letter of 'our national constitution based on democratic, civilian authority control and oversight of the armed forces in line with international standards and best practices.'

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