Gambia, a small country in West Africa, will soon rejoin the Commonweath under their new government. On Tuesday of this week, the British foreign secretary Boris Johnson met with the nation’s president, Adama Barrow. Johnson extended London’s support to President Barrow, who has taken office after the departure of Yahya Jammeh who led the country for 22 years.
Last year, former leader Jammeh announced his intentions to withdraw Gambia from the International Criminal Court, a vow Barrow has stated he will not fulfill. In 2013, Jammeh pulled Gambia out of the Commonwealth, a group of 52 countries, most of which are former Britsh colonies.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated in the New York Times that the United Kingdom still has a close relationship to Gambia. “We’re here to help,” said Johnson in his private meeting with President Barrow. Before leaving Banjul, Gambia’s capital, Johnson stressed that Britain will work to ensure the country can rejoin the Commonwealth within the coming months.
On the BBC, a spokesman for Gambia said that when the country chose to leave the Commonwealth three years ago, government leaders “noted its decision with regret.” He went on to say the country looks forward to eventually returning to the fold. The Commonwealth was a part of the nation’s “very close-knit family,” he said, and Gambia’s doors have always remained open.
President Adama Barrow, a former Argos security guard, beat the hardline ruler Yahya Jammeh in elections held in December. However, Jammeh did not accept the results, stating he believed there had been irregularities in the polls. Although troops from other West African countries were prepared to cross over Gambia’s borders to force Jammeh out of office, the former leader clung to power and refused to leave his post. British citizens in Gambia at this time were also issued warnings that the country had become unsafe for travel or work.
For many weeks, Jammeh continued to refuse to step down, resulting in a stalemate that took an economic toll on the nation. The former leader has also been accused of stealing 500m Gambian dalasis (over $11 million dollars) from the nation’s banks during his last two weeks in office.
Once Jammeh finally went into exile, Barrow came back from Senegal, where he sought sanctuary during the ordeal. He was sworn in as president in January.
Boris Johnson stated in SkyNews that Gambia’s new administration “got rid of the guy who was really holding things up” for the country. Now the nation is eager to move forward.
By Rebeccah Dean