The head of the Ecomig forces maintaining security in The Gambia has told Agence France-Presse on Friday that army officials loyal to former leader Yahya Jammeh are hostile to the new government.
Colonel Magatte Ndiaye, the head of a Senegalese contingent deployed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), told AFP that rebel elements were intent on destabilising the country and working with exiled Jammeh-era top brass.
“High-ranking officials of the Gambia Armed Forces that have fled with the former president have maintained contact with hostile elements within The Gambia security forces still on active duty,” Ndiaye said.
Members of Jammeh’s ultra-loyal death squad, known as the “Junglers”, had succeeded in fleeing to neighbouring countries, he added, despite calls to bring them to justice.
“When you put the influence from outside and the operation from inside together, it shows that there are so many negative forces working to make this country ungovernable,” Ndiaye said.
Jammeh is currently living in exile in Equatorial Guinea as part of a deal to get him to leave the country peacefully following 22 years in power, and is believed to have taken several of his most important aides with him.
Senegal’s foreign minister described The Gambia as threatened by external forces in June, sparking speculation over the level of danger posed by groups such as the ‘junglers’ intent on sowing discord in The Gambia.
Colonel Ndiaye said that while his troops were “succeeding in building that confidence between the Gambian people and their own security forces,” demonstrations were being planned that warranted their attention.
One protester was killed in a violent demonstration against the presence of the West African forces near Jammeh’s home village of Kanilai in June, which Ndiaye described at the time as “self-defence” against a crowd of 600 people with hunting rifles, machetes, knives and stones.
West African troops were first sent to Gambia in January to compel Jammeh to relinquish power to his elected successor Adama Barrow, but were retained at the new president’s request over fears for his safety.