Of all the times to arrive in The Gambia, I came at one of the best. A few weeks after our plane touched down, I witnessed the National Assembly election. The Gambia has achieved another milestone for the democracy that its people have worked so hard to restore.
The election marks a positive inflection point and offers much promise. Particularly inspiring are the many committed young adults who actively worked on the elections and participated in civil-society-led voter education and election observation. There is a clear desire to improve on the bold steps that Gambians took toward democracy in 2016, and that is cause for optimism.
Make no mistake. The Gambia, like the United States, has its challenges as we both strive to strengthen our democracies. As The Gambia’s partner, we do not have all the answers, but in the spirit of collaboration, we want to help create a better future for our nations.
During my tenure, I pledge that the United States will be steadfast in helping The Gambia build democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights, and strengthen inclusive, country-led economic development—all goals that we share as free people.
As your partner, we will move ahead on many important ongoing bilateral and multilateral initiatives. These include our new USAID development agreement to strengthen judicial institutions, along with other initiatives such as donating – in partnership with COVAX – safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses, grants for educating women and girls, support for the media sector, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Threshold Program to develop and implement strategic reforms for the energy sector.
I hope to do even more, especially in pursuing initiatives that promote transparency, good governance, respect for human rights, and self-reliant economic development. We will help Gambians increase accountability and give a voice to all the people of this great nation. I have seen firsthand the power of these partnerships in other countries and look forward to moving forward with many here in The Gambia.
Most of all, I hope to meet more of the many Gambians who are working to build a better future for themselves and their families. Forty years ago, I traveled through The Gambia and was so impressed by the warmth and optimism of its people that I never forgot it. It is good to see this spirit has not changed.
There is so much to look forward to. For now, I thank you for the most positive welcome—both in terms of the people I have met and the events I have just witnessed. My Embassy colleagues and I are so enthusiastic about partnering with the people of The Smiling Coast of Africa. The Gambia has a special place in my heart, and I am eager to lead my team as we work with you.