OIC GAMBIA CLAIMS SUMMIT STILL ON COURSE

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By Tabora Bojang

Even with only 53 days to the end of the year, the OIC Gambia Secretariat has maintained that the proposed 2022 heads of state summit of the world’s biggest Islamic organization in Banjul has not been taken away from The Gambia.

With the end of year in sight and most of the infrastructural developments connected to the summit not ready, many Gambians have since concluded that the summit cannot hold in Banjul this year.

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Its director of communications, Nfally Fadera insisted that the secretariat has never at any point been told that the summit will be cancelled or taken away from The Gambia. “Again, we have never announced or suggested any date for the summit. So as it stands, any suggestion that the summit has been taken away from The Gambia for not meeting a deadline is not correct.

We have been consistently clear in saying that the summit is expected to take place in Banjul in 2022 but we have never stated a date or month because that is a matter for the entire membership of the OIC and the general secretariat,” Mr Fadera told The Standard.

He revealed that the summit is held every 36 months but since the last one, no summit was held largely due to Covid-19 and related issues. “What we want to make clear is The Gambia has not lost its hosting right for this summit,” he said.

According to Fadera, the matter of the date for the summit is ‘being discussed’ at the highest level of the OIC general secretariat. “The secretary general was here in Banjul and he had consultations with the president, the foreign minister, the secretariat and the local organising committee and we briefed him extensively in relation to our state of preparedness and he clearly stated that the secretariat and all members are in support of The Gambia. So, we are in consultations and once we settle on a date, we will announce it”, he said. He added: “As a country, we have made our position quite clear through the relevant diplomatic channels. We are expecting a technical team from the OIC secretariat who will come and do their assessment and hopefully after that, we will know when the summit is specifically going to take place.”

Asked if Gambia would accept an extension, he replied: “Well that will suit the country too as you know most of the projects that we earmarked are still being implemented. There could very well be possibility for The Gambia summit to be held beyond 2022. But that information or decision can only be made at the level of the OIC with of course consultation with The Gambia,” he said.