Gov’t urged to renegotiate land deal with US Government

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By Omar Bah

The Gambia Moral Congress leader has urged the Gambia government to renegotiate the land acquisition deal it signed with the United States Government saying the deal is “unfair”. 

Yesterday, the government announced it has recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Government of the United States of America through their Embassy in The Gambia for the acquisition of a property current hosting the West Africa Livestock Innovation Centre (WALIC) for the purpose of building a permanent state-of-the-art embassy.

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But reacting to the announcement in a Standard exclusive, Mai Ahmad Fatty said: “I have an issue with The Gambia Government granting a large spate of land – 25 acres – to the United States from one of the most priced strategic locations in The Gambia. The compromise – to build new infrastructure for WALIC – is not sufficient trade-in. I do not doubt that through our national ability, by ourselves, using our own resources, The Gambia can build a new WALIC of any class the US may offer us.”

Mai insisted that The Gambia did not bargain well or negotiate what it truly deserved.

“We need to reopen the negotiations and claim for what this Sovereignty deserves. Our American friends and side, who truly revolutionised the modern concept of national interest, will be the first to acknowledge our rights in doing so. If only we value what we need to value, which I do not view as phantomic perception, shall earn us greater,” he added.

Mr Fatty argued that the important criterion is one of reciprocity. “Will the United States Government, reciprocally concede to granting even 12.5 acres of land at identical location in Washington DC for The Gambia to build a new Embassy? If the answer is no, then the same should be the response of The Gambia Government too,” he noted.

The United States, Fatty added, has taught emerging democracies such as The Gambia lessons that; national interests come first against all else, American life, particularly on foreign shores is more valuable than all other human lives, such that the US may severely sanction or bomb a country to protect American lives.

“Therefore, for me, Gambian diplomacy should be guided exclusively by The Gambia’s national interests, and nothing more. If foreign policy translates to the advancement of domestic policies abroad, then the concept of reciprocity in diplomatic relations should take root on Gambian foreign policy practices. Equally, The Gambia should seek the safety and welfare of every Gambian on foreign shores,” he argued.

Fatty added that the Gambia has “nothing to fear or be apprehensive of in its dealings with other nations. He said regardless of its size or economy, the Gambia remains an important player and is sought after by many States around the world”.

“We must believe in our ability to hold our own, in the strength of our size and further recognize our importance in many spheres,” he added.

The GMC leader however acknowledged that the United States and The Gambia have had an enduring fruitful bilateral relationship and that the US was among the first major powers to express her confidence in the viability of Gambia at a time when some Western nations doubted its ability to maintain its sovereignty.

“I view the US as a great and honest friend of The Gambia. The US, like The Gambia, appreciates that the Truth is the only constant element that can muster the challenge of time in any genuine relationship. Both nations, while consolidating our bilateral friendship, must be frank and open to each other, for this can only strengthen our friendship. In the pursuit of frankness and openness in our bilateral discourse, we must not shy away from dialogue on sensitive issues. After all, that is what friendship calls for, he added.”