The mandate of the regional forces ends this month as the forces await communication on the extension of their mandate from Abuja.
The stay of the regional forces who entered into the Gambia under a code name “Operation Restore Democracy” have had their mandate extended, Jean Claude Brou, president of the ECOWAS commission told journalists at the Banjul International Airport on Friday.
Brou who has had several engagements with the authorities has entered into the country on Thursday for the opening of the ECOWAS Regional Competition Authorities headquarters in Banjul.
“The mandate of ECOMIG is ending this month but it will be extended because it has a very important role in keeping the peace and helping the Gambian security forces. That is why we talk about security sector reform with the authorities because the security has to be owned by the Gambian people,” said Brou, the new ECOWAS commission leader who took from Marcel De Souza few months ago.
“I think the security situation has improved but it does not mean that the challenges are not there. And that is why the ECOMIG and the Gambian forces are here to ensure safety of the population.”
It is not clear if the extension is for three or six months. Meanwhile, the mandate of the regional forces is supposed to end this month after they intervened to force former president Yahya Jammeh out of the country.
Jammeh, who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, and reportedly enjoyed a broader support from the army lost election but refused to quit claiming the elections were unfair.
The regional leader then moblised forces to force him out after all mediation efforts have failed.
“This mission was to continue the dialogue with the Gambian authorities…. This country has gone through some difficult periods and we have seen that Gambia has improved in several areas…,” added Brou.
He said they have discussed other key areas with authorities such as reforms of the security and transitional justice.
Another key individual who flew with the president of the ECOWAS commission was Muhammed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations secretary general representative for West Africa representative.
Chambas told journalists that one of the discussion they have had with the Gambian authorities was how to put plans to ensuring that all the pledges made at the donour conference in Brussels are realized.
Also on the agenda of the delegates’ meeting with Gambian authorities was the ECOWAS meeting to discuss security of the region in the coming month.
Both diplomats left the country by Friday afternoon.