By Omar Bah
The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Masanneh Kinteh has disclosed that the armed forces was politicised during the former regime.
He said because of that political inclination in the army, there were coups, accusations of coups and counter coups.
Kinteh made these remarks on GRTS CheckPoint recently.
CDS Kinteh said to have a professional army, you don’t only have to remove the military from politics, but you also have to remove politics from the military.
He continued: “A soldier is a citizen, who has the right and entitlements like any other citizen and can go to the polls and vote, but we don’t want to have a political campaign mounted in the military barracks because partisan politics dissolves the professional fabric of the military”.
CDS Kinteh said what he and his team intend to do now is to go back to the drawing board and reeducate the soldiers because they need to know that if they are wearing the uniform, they owe allegiance to the country “and that you have taken the suit to sacrifice and put your life on the line for the survival of the people of your country as a whole not those who belong to a certain party.”
He said if soldiers are aware of this, then they would not take sides.
“We are not only going to deal with the problem of politics in the armed forces, but we are also going to deal with the problem of tribalism within the armed forces. We are going to make sure that we transform the armed forces in a way that it is going to be non-partisan, professional and accountable,” he added.
CDS Kinteh further stressed that the armed forces over the years have not been moving the way it is supposed to move.
He disclosed that Basse and Kanilai are now battalions of their own and they are putting on the needed logistics to ensure that they are fully functional.
Kinteh also said contrary to widespread rumours, there is no sacking in the military, saying the only thing going on right now is reform.
On whether it is necessary to have a defence minister, CDS Kinteh said it is not for him to suggest whether the country should have a defence minister or not.
“What I can say is that if you are managing security, it has to be managed by various languages, you have the ground and tactical level, operational level, commandment and service chiefs and all these levels are important for the normalization of the armed forces as an institution,” he said.
Still on reforms, CDS Kinteh said the government through his office is determined to reform the military and during those reforms, soldiers’ role will be made very clear to them and the responsibility they have to the citizens of the country.