Six in ten Gambians believe that Gambia Armed Forces “often” or “always” protect the country from security threats, a new survey has revealed.
And five in ten Gambian, according to the survey, say the men in uniform are respectful to citizens. However, only 37% said the armed forces get the resources they need to be effective.
The outcome of this survey will be seen as a marked improvement for the image of an institution that citizens associated with a brutal dictatorship that rule the country for 22 years. Gambian soldiers were not just accused of condoning rights violations but some of their key members were involved in some atrocities.
Meanwhile, Gambians are split on whether the ECOWAS Military Intervention in the Gambia (ECOMIG) should leave and let the Gambia Armed Forces and Police take charge of security matters in the country, Afrobarometer’s inaugural national survey in the country reveals.
The call for ECOMIG to leave is highest in West Coast and among the youth.
Regarding security issues, the study also shows that about four in 10 Gambians say they have felt unsafe in their neighbourhood or have had something stolen from their homes during the past year, while more than half have feared various forms of violence.
Though a majority say the Gambia Armed Forces protect the country from security threats, more than a third say they do not have the resources they need to be effective.
The ECOMIG troops were deployed in the Gambia as part of an international response to ensure respect for the results of the country’s 2016 presidential election.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in Africa. Six rounds of surveys were conducted in up to 37 Africans countries between 1999 and 2015, and Round 7 surveys are being completed in 2018.
Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.
The Afrobarometer team in the Gambia, led by the Centre for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies (CepRass), interviewed 1,200 adult Gambians in July and August 2018.
A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.
Gambians are split on whether ECOMIG should leave and let the Gambia Armed Forces and Police take charge of security matters in the country (Figure 1).
The idea that it is time for ECOMIG to leave is most popular in West Coast, Kanifing, and Upper River and among the youth aged 18-35 years (Figure 2). Men, educated citizens, and urban residents are somewhat more likely to agree that it is time for ECOMIG to leave than women, uneducated citizens, and those in rural areas.
Over the past year, four in 10 Gambians had something stolen from their house (40%) or felt unsafe walking in their neighbourhood (36%). One in four (25%) feared crime in their home, and one in 14 (7%) were physically attacked (Figure 3).
In the past two years, about half or more of Gambians have feared violence during a public protest (49%), in the neighbourhood (53%), or at political events (56%). About one in six say they actually experienced violence in the neighbourhood (17%) or at a political event (15%) (Figure 4).
A majority (61%) say the Gambia Armed Forces “often” or “always” protect the country from security threats, and half (50%) say they are respectful to citizens. However, only 37% say the armed forces get the resources they need to be effective (Figure 5).