After a democratic change of power in The Gambia in 2017, the country embarked on a transitional journey. The Gambian government identified Security Sector Reform (SSR) as one of the key priorities in its National Development Plan. Five years in, Gambian citizens express doubts about the government’s seriousness to move the process forward and the progress of SSR remains limited. In this blog post, we take a historical lens to examine current challenges and suggest a long-term perspective in both looking back and moving forward.
The African Union’s (AU) peacebuilding efforts in The Gambia reflect the organization’s growing responsibility in this field. From 2018 to 2020, the AU deployed the African Union Technical Support Team to The Gambia (AUTSTG). Drawing on interviews and document and media analyses in 2020/2021, this PRIF Spotlight examines this novel mode of engagement and points out an emerging dilemma: The AUTSTG was successful as a technical and pragmatic intervention. However, this only came at the expense of supporting long-term political processes and thus undermined the AU‘s holistic peacebuilding policy.
Wherever you go in the Gambia, you will find people in the streets chattering about the presidential election surrounded by an air of excitement. Gambians call this chatter ‘gisgis’ and it is all about politics these days. On 4 December 2021, Gambians went to the polls. The first elections without the former 22 year-long president Yahya Jammeh contesting passed peacefully. His successor Adama Barrow, elected in 2016 quite surprisingly, was confirmed in power. With that, the Gambia passed a litmus test: having decided for continuity in times of change, Gambians send a strong signal of democratic practice to the region.