President Barrow vows to reform National Intelligence Agency  

Barrow made his intention clear in keeping the appointment of his vice president Fatoumata Jallow despite widespread criticisms that she has passed the constitutional age limit of 65.

barrow-at-airport

The new president of Gambia, Adama Barrrow, who toppled the country’s longstanding leader, Yahya Jammeh, has promised to reform and change the name of National Intelligence Agency, an institution accused of disappearances and death of political opponents of the former military ruler in the small nation.

Jammeh has ruled Gambia for 22 years during which right groups accused him of killing and torturing political opponents, right activists and journalists to prolong his leadership.

“NIA is a state institution that works in the area of intelligence gathering… That work will continue but we will change their name and reform the institution to bring their work in line with law,” he said.

This was the new president’s first meeting with the press since his coming into the country on Thursday, a week after he was sworn in at the Gambian embassy in Senegal.

Barrow’s defeated rival Jammeh refused to cede power following the country’s December 1 election claiming the electoral process was tainted with irregularities.

But strongman later reached a deal with regional leaders to step down and flew to Equatorial Guinea on exile.

It was one of Barrow’s first promises during campaign to return Gambia to International Criminal Court if he becomes president and he told journalists that he intends to keep his words.

“We have come to power campaigning on the principles of democracy and rule or law, and that is what ICC also advocates. I think Gambia should not quit ICC…,” he said.

It is a requirement in the Gambian constitution to declare one’s assets before vying for presidency but ministers are not required to do the same.

However, Barrow said his ministers will declare their assets before assuming office in the interest of “transparency” and “accountability”.

“All ministers will declare their assets. Even myself before I contested for presidency, I declared my assets in the interest of transparency and accountability. That will happen,” he said.

He also promised to set up what he called a “truth and reconciliation commission” that will be mandated to “investigate” allege crimes of the former regime and “make recommendations”

president-barrow-and-vice-president-jallow

President Barrow, right, and his Vice President Jallow, left

Meanwhile, Barrow made his intention clear in keeping the appointment of his vice president Fatoumata Jallow despite widespread criticisms that she has passed the constitutional age limit of 65.

The Gambian constitution has placed an age limit for vice presidency at 65 but Barrow said those who claim his VP who is to represent him at the coming AU summit is beyond that age limit should produce a proof.

Jammeh has also unilaterally declared Gambia an Islamic State but Barrow said “Gambia will be Republic of The Gambia, not Islamic Republic”.

The new leader also promised to constitutional reforms and revealed that his cabinet will be announced on Tuesday.

He also promised to return the country to five working days instead of 4, arguing “that is what I think will be more favourable to many families”.

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