President Adama Barrow has pleaded with the regional bloc Ecowas to extend its ECOMIG military mission in The Gambia until after the next election in 2021.

The president made his plea on Sunday while addressing the 56th Ecowas Heads of State and Government Summit in Abuja.

“Given our unique situation, I re-echo the plea to this august body to extend the ECOMIG mission in The Gambia to 2021, when the transition process would have given way for the Third Republic to contribute effectively to our regional commitments,” said President Barrow.

He added: “My Government has progressed with the security sector reform programme, aligning it with the ECOWAS Framework.”

President Barrow said his government is progressing with its reform agendas and security sectors overhaul which includes “capacity building and right sizing” of The Gambia’s army.

“All these activities require a peaceful and stable environment. To this end, I thank our partners sincerely for supporting and sustaining the ECOMIG mission in The Gambia. It is contributing immensely to the stability in the country and the protection of our fragile democracy.

“Although our Community outreach programme and Institutional framework are being implemented, there is need for a robust environment to pursue the reforms to the end.”

The ECOMIG intervention force was sent to The Gambia by the regional bloc in 2016 after former dictator Yahya Jammeh refused to handover power following a shock election defeat by an opposition coalition led by Adama Barrow.

The ECOMIG mission is providing security in the country while The Gambia’s army, which has been accused of siding with the former president, is downsized and reformed.

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