By Omar Bah
Gambians living in Ivory Coast have officially written to President Adama Barrow expressing their dissatisfaction over the removal of the Gambia’s Honorary Consul to Abidjan, Dembo Fatty.
Fatty was a protocol to the late Gambian Honorary consul, Alhagie Ismaila Sibi. He was recommended by the Gambian community in the former French colony to replace the late Sibi, which was approved in December, 2019.
However,the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently sent a memo to Dembo Fatty asking him to cease all activities within the consulate.
This did not go down well with the Gambian community in Abidjan who wrote a letter to President Barrow to complain about Fatty’s removal.
In their letter shared with The Standard, the association of Gambian nationals in Ivory Coast contended: “We note with great concern that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not administer its role transparently. We believe the ministry is trying to favour the family of the deceased consul to ensure their inheritance of the post as if The Gambia is a Kingdom.
“This kind of behaviour is denounced by the Gambian community living in Ivory Coast. We believe the ministry want to maintain the late consul’s family’s interest and ignore the general interest of Gambians living in Ivory Coast. We have lived together for several years in peace and social cohesion without political, racial, ethnic and religious distinction. We want to maintain that peace”.
The letter further reads: “After the death of the late consul Mr Sibi, we held an extraordinary general assembly and decided to take charge of our own destiny. Consequently, we decided to choose Dembo Fatty, who worked for several years under the late consul as director of protocol and president of the Gambian nationals in Ivory Coast. To this end, the community launched a procedure with the government through the Gambian Ambassador in Ivory Coast resident in Sierra Leone, Ebrima Manneh. We submitted to him the documents necessary for the decision of appointment of the new consul as we did with the appointment of the late Ismaila Sibi in 1991. Our request was granted by both The Gambia and Ivory Coast governments. This is how Dembo Fatty became consul. But to our surprise, we received a verbal note from the Gambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Dembo Fatty must cease all activities within the consulate without giving any reasons. We deem this act unacceptable and inadmissible”.
The former consul Alhagie Ismaila Sibi, passed away in Abidjan on August 23, 2019 and Dembo Fatty replaced him on 12th December, 2019. Fatty’s appointment letter and the corresponding letter from the Ivory Coast government accepting his appointment was seen by The Standard.
The Standard contacted the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Saikou Ceesay who said:”Under the laws of The Gambia, only the President of the Republic can appoint an ambassador or honorary consul of The Gambia to any nation and that has not been the case in the case of Fatty.”
He gave no further details.