Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has fired the head of the armed forces, General Ousman Badjie, as he continues a clear-out of senior officials linked to the despotic rule of his predecessor, a military and government sources said Monday.
Badjie has been replaced by General Masanneh Kinteh, a special military adviser to Barrow since January, according to the military source.
Barrow retook his oath of office on February 18, a month after he was sworn in across the border in neighbouring Senegal during a tense power struggle with his predecessor Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh had refused to step down following his defeat in December elections, but agreed to leave for exile on January 21 following negotiations with other west African leaders.
Barrow told the crowd at the swearing-in he would probe human rights abuses under Jammeh’s iron-fisted rule spanning 22 years.
“A Human Rights Commission will be established without delay,” to track people who went missing or disappeared after being arrested, Barrow said. “Orders have already been given for all those detained without trial to be released”.
The United Nations and rights groups repeatedly condemned The Gambia’s security services under Jammeh, blaming them for arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings and torture.
Last week Barrow removed the chief of the country’s feared intelligence agency, Yankuba Badjie, and the head of the national prison system, David Colley.
A government source confirmed Ousman Badjie’s dismissal, and said the handover to Kinteh would take place within hours.
Ousman Badjie, a Jammeh loyalist, had pledged allegiance to Barrow along with top defence, civil service and security chiefs on January 20, one day before the former president fled the country.
The general was also spotted among revellers on the streets of Banjul celebrating Barrow’s inauguration in Senegal.
The military source said Badjie would be redeployed to a foreign mission, but has yet to be told which one.
Kinteh was first named as armed forces chief in October 2009 following the removal and arrest of his predecessor, General Lang Tombong Tamba.
He was subsequently dismissed in July 2012 and appointed Gambia’s ambassador to Cuba, and replaced by Badjie.
Amnesty International said that under Jammeh, “Gambia’s climate of fear was sustained for years through regular arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as routine torture.
Since effectively taking power late last month, Barrow has rushed to uphold pledges to overhaul the military and security services.