In your edition of 1st March 2019, under the heading “Bantaba” Part 2 of the account by Charles Stuart Kennedy in his Foreign Affairs Oral History Project devoted to Andrew Winter, U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia at the time of the 1994 coup, a number of factual errors were raised.
Please allow me to set the record straight.
1. At the time of the military coup d’état in July 1994, I was not the Foreign Minister. I was appointed Foreign Minister the following year in March 1995 until March 1997.
2. I have never served in Washington D.C. in any capacity. I was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of The Gambia to the United Nations (U.N.) from 1998 to 2001. For two years, The Gambia was a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
3. I was re-appointed Foreign Affairs Minister from August 2001 until October 2004.
4. I joined the U.N. in September 2005 until I retired in February 2017.
It should be made very clear that as Foreign Minister, access to any place of detention did not fall within my purview. I had no power or authority therefore to determine who could or could not visit such places.
As for the ridiculous account on Taiwan, it just shows how immature and ignorant Andrew Winter is. Almost everybody knows about the One-China policy. We did not need any lesson on that from him. I had received the Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) earlier and he told me in no uncertain terms that unless the decision to recognize Taiwan was rescinded immediately, they would leave the country within 48 hours.
I can understand Mr. Andrew Winter’s bitterness. I found him to be extremely rude and arrogant, impudent, impulsive, bumptious, and opprobrious. In one of our encounters, I had no choice but to kick him out of my office.
He failed miserably to do Washington’s bidding largely because of his approach that left much to be desired. He was not tactful. He could not understand that diplomacy is about mutual respect and reciprocity. Unfortunately, he persisted in his ignorance and arrogance. What a pity that such a boastful fellow could not bear in mind the sacrosanct principles governing inter-state relations. Mr. Andrew Winter went on to shamelessly describe The Gambia as a “sleepy place that went back to sleeping.” He should be reminded that the greatness of a country does not depend on its size but on the quality of its leadership and the national character of its people.
Thank you Sir once again for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.
Baboucarr-Blaise I. Jagne