West African force in Gambia to be reduced to 500 from 7,000

Ivorian army chief General Philippe Mangou (L) reviews his soldiers during a ceremony marking the start of the deployment of government forces in areas controlled by former rebels, at the army's headquarters in Abidjan May 5, 2009. A total of 4,000 government soldiers and an equal number of former rebels will be deployed across the country to provide security for the electoral process, army chief General Philippe Mangou said on Tuesday. Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, will hold its long-delayed presidential elections by December 6 at the latest, the West African country's U.N. ambassador said last week. REUTERS/Luc Gnago   (IVORY COAST POLITICS MILITARY ELECTIONS)
Ivorian army chief General Philippe Mangou (L) reviews his soldiers during a ceremony marking the start of the deployment of government forces in areas controlled by former rebels, at the army's headquarters in Abidjan May 5, 2009. A total of 4,000 government soldiers and an equal number of former rebels will be deployed across the country to provide security for the electoral process, army chief General Philippe Mangou said on Tuesday. Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, will hold its long-delayed presidential elections by December 6 at the latest, the West African country's U.N. ambassador said last week. REUTERS/Luc Gnago (IVORY COAST POLITICS MILITARY ELECTIONS)

The Gambian government on Friday said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) multinational force will be cut to 500 troops from 7,000.

The troop had been in The Gambia, from where long-time leader Yahya Jammeh was forced to flee in January, paving the way for new President Adama Barrow to take office.

Mr. Jammeh, who had ruled since seizing power in a 1994 coup, refused to accepted Barrow’s victory in a Dec. 1, 2016 election.

A statement from Mr. Barrow’s office read on state television said that the gradual scaling down of the force would begin no later than February 19.

Troops from Gambia’s neighbour Senegal as well as from Ghana and Nigeria will make up the smaller operation, whose mandate begins on February 21 and will last for three months.

Their mission will include protecting Mr. Barrow and other government members and institutions as trust is established between the new authorities and Gambia’s military, which was a pillar of Mr. Jammeh’s authoritarian regime.

Mr. Barrow had initially requested that the ECOWAS force’s mission be extended by six months, a senior United Nations official said late in January.(Reuters/NAN)


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