By Lamin Cham
The Gambia Government has strongly refuted suggestions, mainly on opposition online forums and at least one Senegalese online media, that President Barrow was humiliated by his host Assimi Goïta of Mali, when he accompanied other leaders there on Ecowas mission last week.
The report claimed the Malian head of state had told Barrow that he has no moral standing to talk about the democratic transition of Mali because he himself had reneged on a promise to only reign for three years.
The report further alleged that Col Goïta reminded Barrow of his first visit to Mali as president-elect and what the world was told was that he was only staying for three years which promised he broke.
However, according to a statement issued by Government Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh, the claim is a “preposterous political propaganda”.
The full statement reads: “Ever since President Adama Barrow and a delegation of West African Statesmen returned from an ECOWAS Mediation Mission to Mali recently, erroneous claims emerged that the Gambian leader was terribly humiliated by his Malian colleague, interim President, Colonel Assimi Goïta. Contrary to this false claim trending across social media, The Gambia Government wishes to clarify that it is a shameful fabrication by some enemies of progress determined to sabotage every success story under President Barrow’s visionary leadership.
While the misleading report alleges that President Barrow angered his Malian host by
advising him to relinquish power for a peaceful transition to democratic civilian rule, President Barrow’s delegation never discussed transition as that was not their Mission to Mali. In fact, the military authorities in Mali had long assured ECOWAS, the African Union and the international community of their commitment to peaceful transition to democratic rule.
The high-powered delegation to Mali was tasked with negotiating an amicable resolution to the fate of some 49 detained Ivorian soldiers mistaken for mercenaries and the trip was a major success as three female officers have since been freed. It can be recalled that during the recently concluded UN General Assembly Meetings, member States of the ECOWAS Community convened an Extraordinary Summit on the margins of the UN Assembly, to specifically address the looming political situation in Guinea as well as the plight of the detained Ivorian soldiers in Mali.
In actuality, President Barrow’s Mission to Mali was in fulfilment of that extraordinary session’s determination to find a lasting solution to the circumstances surrounding those 49 detained Ivorian soldiers and had nothing absolutely, to do with the purported military to civilian transition timetable erroneously reported.
Crucially, President Barrow wishes to thank Colonel Assimi Goïta for the hospitality, finesse and general politeness with which he treated him and the entire delegation. Mr Barrow is specifically grateful to Colonel Goïta for his demonstrated kindness towards him, for his love for Gambia and Gambians. During his sessions with Mr Barrow, the Malian leader revealed he has family links with The Gambia and intends to visit Gambia soon”.