The 7, 000 forces of the ECOWAS Military Intervention to the Gambia (ECOMIG) will be scaled down to 500 later this month, the Gambia government has confirmed.

The forces were deployed to the country in January to  help the new President Adama Barrow take power from former President Yahya Jammeh who lost the elections and refused to hand over power.

A statement from the Gambia government read on state television on Thursday said the gradual scaling down would begin no later than 19 February.

The 500-strong force left behind will have a three-month mandate to protect President Barrow and his government members.

Former President Jammeh has since agreed and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea.