‘PIU Is Not Militarised’

By Abdoulie John

An Adviser to Gambian President has debunked the government’s critics accusations that it is gradually militarising the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) in order to crush possible protests. Critics expressed the need for better civilian handling tools.

“We must do away with AK-47. Usually when the PIU comes, they have weapons containing life discharges,” Presidential Adviser Mai Ahmed Fatty told this medium. “That is not the best way to control crowd.”

Barrow’s top adviser said throughout the world all security forces are involved in crowd control, which should be done in such a way that would not cost life.

He assured that the current government is moving away from using life amunition for crowd control and that the police are going to rely on mechanisms that would allow them to do their job effectively.

“I would rather be sprayed with water than be sprayed with bullets,” said Mai Ahmad Fatty in an attempt to diffuse the noise surrounding the newly acquired water can vehicle.

In wake of mounting criticism over the slow pace of reform in the country’s security apparatus, Mr. Fatty said The Gambia government is committed to making sure that the security forces will serve a democratic dispensation.

“The reorientation of the security forces requires a new way of doing things.”

Mr. Fatty was part of top Gambian officials who took part in a one-day forum for dialogue in directing the Scurity Sector Reform (SSR) held at Metzy Residence Hotel in Kotu. Organised by DCAF – The Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance, the discussion was centred on rightsizing the security institutions that were used by the former regime to commit gruesome crimes highlighted at the ongoing truth commission.

Fatty said when human conduct becomes sedimented, it is difficult to change it overnight. He said The  Gambia is navigating through uncharted grounds, and made it clear that the security sector cannot be changed without requisite policy, strategy in place, national consultations etc.

“Today, two years down the line, we can be satisfied that we have a national security policy,” he stated while indicating that they are on the verge of coming up within two weeks with the appropriate strategy that would help gov’t to achieve the Security Sector Reform.

When asked whether he is with the view that the SSR is really on the right track, he responded in the affirmative.

He further stated that they are on course, citing various training, seminars, capacity building among all the security forces in the country in order to prepare them for the process that is taking place.

Fatty went on to say they also have a National Security Sector Steering Committee that is regularly holding meetings to review performance and progress.


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