By Lamin Cham
A ceremony symbolising the return of The Gambia to the Commonwealth was held yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when the 52-member organisation’s charter was handed over to Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe.
Speaking on the occasion, Lindiwe Maleleka, a political officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat announced that all 52 member states of the organisation have agreed to welcome back The Gambia into its family fully assured and confident that the country will continue to share the values of the organisation.
She further announced that with the formal return of The Gambia, effective February 8, the country will resume its rightful place in the family with dues and obligations restored right away.
She said The Gambia will accordingly be invited to the next Commonwealth head of government meeting (CHOGM) to be held in London.
In response, Foreign Minister Darboe reminded the gathering that Gambians did not leave the Commonwealth, rather it was a unilateral decision taken by the former president. He further stated that the new government had made it a campaign slogan to return The Gambia to the family and it was gratifying to witness that reality. He assured the Commonwealth that The Gambia will continue to uphold the values of good governance, democracy, human rights and the rule of law henceforth.
The ceremony was attended by the British High Commissioner Sharon Wardle and other diplomats from Commonwealth countries accredited to The Gambia.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said yesterday: “The Gambia’s return to the Commonwealth family is fantastic news. When I visited the country last year, I saw huge enthusiasm for the values and opportunities offered by our modern, diverse Commonwealth.
This shows that when a country commits to strengthening democracy, governance and the rule of law, it is welcomed back to the international community and the Commonwealth family. I very much hope to welcome President Barrow to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London in April.”
Former President Jammeh decaled the Commonwealth a neo-colonial set-up and pulled the country from it in October 2013.