President Adama Barrow has ordered the Gambian armed forces to be on standby to assume police duties to tackle the surging crime rate in the country.
In a televised statement on Monday night, the president said his government has “exercised much restraint since 2017 to allow Gambians and residents of The Gambia to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms without interference” but some are taking advantage to commit crime.
“This must stop and it must stop immediately! We cannot create the necessary environment for freedom and peace to prevail, yet allow ruthless criminals to take advantage of the situation to deny our people the liberty to carry on with their normal lives freely, and enjoy the serenity of their homes without fear of being attacked or robbed of their hard-earned money or property,” he said.
The recently deployed joint security forces have been unrelenting in the last few days patrolling, searching and checking vehicles on major roads with rape, murder, armed robbery on the rise as well as a proliferation of weapons and drugs.
However, President Barrow promised to boost the capacity of the police with personnel, equipment and, when the need arises, deployment of soldiers into the streets.
“As a final warning to the criminals and bandits in our midst, I hereby order the National Guard Unit of the Armed Forces to be on standby for deployment, when needed, to assume police duties, as provided for under the National Guard Unit Police Duties Regulations. Together with all citizens, we must never allow The Gambia to be a safe haven for criminal acts and banditry,” he said.
The president warned that free and fair elections “can only be held in a secure atmosphere, free from fear and intimidation”.
He also advised Gambians and residents of the country to take their own security seriously.
“This is not about politics. Crime is not a political matter and, therefore, should not be politicized. Let us join forces to eliminate crime and expel all criminals from our communities. I advise everyone to be vigilant, and to report suspicious activities discovered either within our neighborhoods or on the streets. Good citizens readily and willingly support law enforcement officials and even lend them a hand, where necessary, during their operations. The least we can do is not to obstruct them in any way,” he urged.