The European Union Ambassador to Gambia, Attila Lajos, Monday warned about a possible failure of the Security Sector Reform (SSR), urging major stakeholders to redouble their efforts in order to fast-track the revamping of the country’s security apparatus.
“Without strong political engagement from key decision-makers now, SSR will fail – regardless of the technical expertise invested in it,” he said in his opening remarks delivered at a one-day forum for dialogue centred on the SSR.
In the shadows of the transition process, The Gambia launched the much anticipated Security Sector Reform (SSR) with a view to embarking on a complete overhaul of the security system. Twenty two years of dictatorship have left the security forces with a reputation of being repressive despite the fact that the new authorities have expressed their resolve to righting the wrongs of the past.
While welcoming the recent decision taken by President Adama Barrow to appoint a Defense Minister, and a new Interior Minister, the European Union plenipotentiary reminded participants that very few would have believed three years ago that change would be possible. “But what I see now is no visible reform in the last three years in the security sector,” he deplored.
Over the past three years, a series of incidents involving the security forces have left many Gambians wondering whether the SSR was really on the right track. “[T]his government was elected on a platform for change,” EU’s Latjos voiced out. “Only real political leadership can guide the reform process towards the achievement of clearly designated objectives.”
Going off the diplomatic protocol, the EU Ambassador made it clear that their commitment must not be measured by how much Euros and Dalasis they spent in the country. “The true signs of success is not whether we are a source of aid that helps people scrape by – it is whether we are partners in building the capacity to transformational change,” he added.
The Forum for dialogue on directing the security security sector reform in the Gambia is organised by DCAF – Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance with the support of the European Union and World Bank. The forum, which was held at Metzy Residence Hotel in Kotu, brought together experts, and senior members of the Office of the President, the SSR Steering Committee, the Ministry of Finance, the SCDS and Civil Society Organisations.