Barrow appoints first defense minister

Friday, August 23, 2019

President Adama Barrow has appointed Sheikh Omar Faye, as his defense minister in a mini cabinet re-shuffle he effected on Thursday.

Until this appointment, Faye, was The Gambia’s Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and former Ambassador to the United States. He is a trained military officer.

The new changes also saw the sacking of his interior minister Ebrima O. Mballow and Secretary General and Head of Civil Service, Ebrima O Camara.

According to a media dispatch, former Police Inspector General Yankuba Sonko has replaced Mballow as the Interior Minister, while  Muhammed B.S. Jallow, a permanent secretary at the Office of the President is the new Secretary General and Head of Civil Service.

This is Mr. Barrow’s first appointment of a defense minister. His predecessor and former President Yahya Jammeh had been the defense minister during his tenure and since his coming to power in 2016, Mr. Barrow has been the defense minister and commander-in-chief of the country’s army until the Thursday appointment.

 It could be recalled that Barrow effected a first major Cabinet reshuffle in July, last year when he relieved the first vice president and brain-child of the coalition that brought him to power, Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang and replaced her with his foreign affairs minister Ousainou Darboe.

The move, according to media dispatch on Thursday was an act under Sections 71 (3), 71 (4), 167, and 168 of the 1997 Gambia constitution.

Meanwhile, Interior minister and former West Coast Region Governor Ebrima M. Mballow and Ebrima O Camara, Secretary General and Head of Civil Service have been re-deployed to the Foreign Service.

Analysts believe the sacking of Ebrima Mballow has to do with the remarks he made at a rally where he said that government has brought in water tanks to disperse people who are planning a mass demo in December. He has come under fire and widespread criticism by human rights groups for those remarks.

The group known as 3 years ‘Jotna’ or simply three years is up in English, are asking for Barrow to step down after the end of his three years, as stated in the coalition agreement.

However, Barrow made it clear that he will serve five years as required by the constitution.