The United Nations (UN) has okayed a visit by Gambia’s new army chief, Masanneh Kinteh, to Gambian troops deployed on peacekeeping in Sudan’s Darfur region.
According to the BBC’s Africa Editor, James Copnall, a UN source said the current decision was because of the replacement of Jammeh’s last army chief, Ousman Badjie, by the present government.
The source added that the Barrow-government’s commitments in the area of security reforms and respect for human rights also played a role in the decision.
Badjie was blocked by the UN from visiting troops in Darfur last December at a time when the country was plunged into political uncertainty because of exiled leader Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept the December 1, 2017, poll results.
At the time, the army had taken over the Electoral Commission offices, ostensibly to safeguard materials used for the ‘disputed’ elections. That action was widely condemned by regional and international political players including the UN, the African Union and the European Union.
A diplomatic source told AFP at the time that there was “serious concerns about this visit (Badjie to Darfur) given the situation in Banjul, especially after the takeover of the election commission’s office,” adding “The UN has decided to cancel General Badjie’s visit to Gambian peacekeepers in Sudan.“
Barrow had earlier hinted that Badjie will maintain his job as head of the army but in a new twist, he recently redeployed him on foreign service and appointed Kinteh, who was also sent on foreign service by Jammeh before the appointment of Badjie.
Barrow took two oaths of office, first in Senegal as Jammeh’s tenure expired on January 20, 2017. He returned to Banjul after Jammeh fled into exile and took another oath which coincided with the independence day celebration of the country.