Gambian president Adama Barrow REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

President Adama Barrow’s request for an extended stay by the coalition forces of the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Commission has been acquiesced to.

The president of the Commission, Marcel de Souza, said the forces will fall back by the week’s end, allowing each contributing nation’s Chief of Army Staff to decide who stays and who leaves.
He said this on Tuesday while briefing members of the diplomatic corps and partner organisations on the current state of things in The Gambia.
He said: “By the end of the week, the forces will fall back.

“Barrow would like us to have a sufficient force on ground for about six months; we will see which troops will be withdrawn and which would be retained.”

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He said that the ECOWAS mission in The Gambia was to secure peace contrary to reports that there was a military force in the country after former President Yahya Jammeh’s departure. The strategy in place was to avoid bloodshed. The orders to enter Banjul was for security purposes only. To secure the environment and the life of President Adama Barrow.

The commission’s president said that member countries handled the costs of maintaining the troops.

He also confirmed that the Gambian armed forces welcomed the ECOWAS coalition force.

He reiterated that Jammeh departed The Gambia for Equatorial Guinea on Friday after final mediation efforts by the Presidents Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania and Alpha Conde of Guinea.

According to Souza, Jammeh’s requests are still awaiting validation. They are still being reviewed by the UN, AU and ECOWAS.

ECOWAS issued an order for military intervention in The Gambia to oust Jammeh at the stroke of midnight Jan. 19 when his mandate ended. It was an indication of their seriousness and intent after unsuccessful attempts to convince Jammeh to step down.

7,000 Combat troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana and other West African countries were assembled and given the order to keep the peace and be on standby if force becomes necessary in the resolution of the impasse.