The new Gambian President Adama Barrow held his first Press Conference as President on Saturday and said that every aspect of the country would need an overhaul after the former president Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year in power, but that the country’s notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) would remain.
President Barrow discussed wide range of issues with local and International news agencies and not least the issue of the NIA.
When asked whether the NIA will continue to exist, the President said yes, it’s necessary but the name has to change. “The rule of the law, that will be the order of the day,” he said, adding that training would be given to NIA’s operatives.
Another contentious issue regarding Gambia as an “Islamic Republic”, the president said, despite the majority being Muslim, the country is a Republic but not ‘Islamic Republic’ and that would be drop from the name.
He also said Civil servants would likely return to a five-day work week, breaking with the ex-dictator Jammeh’s rule that Friday was a day off in line with his Islamic republic rules.
“My government is going to look at every avenue and there will be a complete overhaul of the system,” President Barrow stated.
The president said, he would receive the first comprehensive information on the state of the nation’s finance on Monday or latest Tuesday, he also promised to announced his cabinet by then to “get the ball rolling”.
The President’s first cabinet pick Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang (FJT) has raised questions about its constitutionality since she is alleged to be over 65, which is the limit for both President and vice president. However, the president promised to produce documentation to prove that FJT is within the constitutional age necessary to be vice president of the Gambia.
The calm and soft spoken president Barrow reassured the members of the press that there will be total freedom when it comes to the press and he highlighted the importance of the press in educating and enlightening the people. “There will be media bill reform, which will empowered the press,” the president said
The president has also promised that his cabinet appointees will declare their assets in the spirit of transparency and accountability as he himself had to declare his assets before been nominated as president.
Meanwhile, when asked about reforms in the army, the president said there will be reform in the army and his government will seek help from the country’s partners who are willing to provide “technical assistance” to the army. He also said the current Chief of Defence Staff LT General Ousman Badjie will keep his job.
“In the army, if we need technical aid, we will contact countries that are willing to help us,” he said. There was “no time set” for the west African force to leave, Barrow added.