By Omar Bah
The leader of the Gambia Moral Congress has said that the continuous presence of the West African forces is not a good sign of stability for the country.
“The continuous presence of Ecomig is not a good sign of stability. No nation that is sovereign should sub-contract its national defence and maintenance of territorial integrity to foreign forces,” Mai Ahmad Fatty told The Standard in an exclusive interview.
Fatty said not only Ecomig, but all foreign forces present on the ground must deserve their relevance based on strict and subjective national interest criteria.
“There is little justification for continuing presence of foreign troops without clear and adequate transitional preparedness on the part of national forces,” he said.
Ecomig, the GMC leader added, has a mandate which is specific, and their mission is temporary.
“Three years down the line, we have failed to sufficiently prepare our national security and defence institutions to independently tackle our security. It is unlikely that Ecomig would stay much longer. Assuming they are ready to do so, as a Government and country, there is no pride in maintaining foreign forces to keep you in power,” he added.
Fatty said the government must accelerate the transition by doing what is right.
“Put those in authority who can implement the much-needed reforms and remove those who are accountable for the current apparent sluggish implementation process. Putting old wine in a new bottle is the surest path to failure. Those who intentionally created the problems are the least eligible to resolve them because the status quo secures them. Stubborn reliance on them renders one an accessory to failure and this country will no longer settle for that,” he said.
Speaking further, the GMC leader said he is concerned about the sluggish pace of implementation of the security sector reform program.
“I appreciate that a serious reform effort like SSR must not be rushed, but it must not also be stalled. The process has been unacceptably stalled, and it appears there’s a clear disconnect between professed political will and its implementation mechanism. Something is being done, and the issue remains that which done, is being done with the appearance of reluctance,” he noted.
He said the government cannot claim to be serious about SSR when the National Security (ONS) is dangerously understaffed, ill-staffed and under-funded.
“The ONS is the main driver of the SSR, and since inception it appeared structurally and administratively designed to fail in executing this critical task,” he stressed.
He said the international community’s support and goodwill to the SSR is at its lowest ebb due to the frustrations experienced by supporting consultants provided by the AU, UN, Ecowas, EU and the US.
“The apparent failure and or reluctance of officers and relevant institutions means the perpetuation of the status quo. I am aware of the challenges, but it takes bold leadership to directly confront these challenges ensuring that those who resist the reforms are replaced without delay. National security knows no appeasement. Either you build a team that believes in reforms or continue to manage a failed team that believes in continuity and consolidation of the old order,” he said.
He urged the Government to expedite the SSR process “divorced from ceremonies and lip service. Political will is a matter of practical manifestation that must empirically connect to ground realities. Mere speeches of assurances bereft of substantive efforts lead to naught.”