Gambia launches first-ever defence policy
President Adama Barrow yesterday launched the country’s ever defence policy since independence in 1965.
The launching of the first ever defence policy is part of the on-going Security Sector Reform initiated by the current government in 2017.
The Gambian leader who was speaking at the launching ceremony, said: “The event is another milestone in the history of the Security Sector in The Gambia. It is a historic moment for us, as we gather here to launch the country’s first-ever Defence Policy since the attainment of Independence in 1965, which is worth celebrating.”
The convergence, held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre, brought together cabinet ministers, lawmakers, service chiefs and members of the diplomatic corps among others.
President Barrow maintained that the “Defence Policy is founded on the sanctity of the country’s sovereignty, national interests, core values, and commitment to a favourable world order and regional security resilience.”
“As you may recall, in 2017, when I took over as President of this country, I made a call for an assessment of the security sector. The purpose was to analyse the existing opportunities and challenges that have to be addressed in the country in respect of delivering accountable, transparent, professional, apolitical, and responsive security services for the people.”
“In response to that call, ECOWAS and the European Union supported my government to review our security sector architecture. The outcome of the exercise necessitated and resulted in the development of the Security Sector Reform Strategy, National Security Policy, National Security Strategy, and the creation of the Office of National Security. I express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to them for their prompt response.”
Barrow added: “Considering the concerted efforts made to develop the country’s National Security Policy and Strategy, the security sector, in particular, must also be congratulated on the progress made so far. The tasks before them provided a wide contextual framework from which is derived from the Defence Policy we are launching today.”
This development, he went on, is a clear testimony that my government takes the security sector reforms seriously on our development agenda. “Our commitment to the reforms is in recognition of the fact that, without security, peace, and stability, economic growth cannot be achieved.”
The National Defence Policy, he said, was part of the recommendations on the security sector reform agenda, and it stemmed from the need to critically evaluate the Defence sector and outline the weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities therein.
“The goal of this undertaking is to transform The Gambia Armed Forces into a highly professional, well-trained, and disciplined unit that is responsive to the needs of the country, through the effective and efficient delivery of security services under democratic oversight and conditions.”
“Providing Defence and Security is a complex endeavour; therefore, as a country, we cannot ignore, under-estimate or downplay our security risks. Thus, it is crucial to determine our national priorities and adopt implementable policies consistent with them.”
Preserving the integrity and sovereignty of The Gambia, he added, requires the commitment of all citizens, and not just the Armed Forces. “Whilst the defence of the country is the responsibility of the security forces, the duty to ensure that the security sector can withstand our security challenges is a matter of national responsibility.”
“I most sincerely thank the Government of the United Kingdom, through the British High Commission in The Gambia, for not only providing financial support to develop the policy document, but also providing a technical expert to guide the drafting process. In the same vein, my profound gratitude and appreciation go to the drafting team and staff of the Ministry of Defence for a job well done.”
He called on the Ministry of Defence to take full responsibility for the policy implementation process and ensure that the much-anticipated outcomes of the reforms in the Defence Sector are achieved. “The Government will continue to work towards enhancing and developing the capacity of the Armed Forces and promoting security awareness and patriotism among the citizens of the country.”
Source: The Point