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BARROW EXPECTS FULL HOUSE AT OIC SUMMIT

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By Omar Bah

As the all-important summit of leaders of world Muslim countries nears in Banjul, President Adama Barrow has himself taken over communications dealing with the summit which opens here on 4 May.

The president called the country’s media yesterday not only to give update but to answer any lingering questions about the country’s preparations for hosting the summit.

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He said he expects a sizeable number of leaders at the Banjul summit and dismissed any suggestions of poor state of preparations. President Barrow said: “We were given suggestions to pass our hosting right to other countries, but we refused because we wanted the world to see what we were capable of as a country.”

He disclosed that his government decided to shift the hosting of the event in 2019 because it didn’t have enough time to put in place all the necessary infrastructure and security arrangements.

“But thank God that we are able to implement a host of projects and we put  a lot of political will   and together,  with the  unflinching support from the OIC, China, and other development partners we are on the brink of hosting a successful event,” he said.

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He said while it may not be possible for all the OIC presidents to attend the summit, all 57 countries have confirmed they will send delegations to the summit. “Even in Ecowas, sometimes only half of the presidents attend meetings, and the same happens with the UN. For example, I have not been attending much international meetings in recent years. That is normal,” he said.

The president added that this is the first time Gambia is hosting such an important event and “though we may be small we want to prove to the world that we can host events of such magnitude”.

He revealed that between 3000 and 4000 delegates are expected to attend but accommodation will not be a problem because the country has over 10,000 beds.

He said apart from the projects, “The Gambia will also chair the OIC for the next three years meaning everything happening in the OIC will be chaired by us.”

Mr. Barrow said this will also put the country on the world map for all the good reasons, and it will significantly benefit Gambians.

“We are already making a lot of money at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, and the highway we built has a guarantee of 25 years,” he said.

Security

Barrow further said government has considered security a top priority for the hosting of the summit and has engaged security agencies across the subregion, especially in the areas of intelligence.

“Countries such as Morocco are helping to train the country’s security forces and the deployment of security at the OIC summit will be the biggest in the history of the country as over 3000 security personnel already well capacitated for the event will be deployed,” he said.

The Gambian leader disclosed that there will be bilateral meetings between him and other heads of state to sell Gambia as a business and tourism destination to the world.

He said all the OIC projects will be completed because all the mobilization has been done and all the contracts have been signed.

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