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Friday, January 22, 2021

On US-Gambia relations

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 While someone like Lamin Sanneh, who led the attack on State House, was a mere resident of that country, other members like Papa Faal and Njaga Jagne hold US-Gambian citizenship and had served in the US army. Another one, Alagie Barrow, is a serving member of the US army. The main sponsor of the attack, Cherno Njie, does not only hold US citizenship, but is also a community leader, who is very close to people in the government in the US.

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With such overwhelming circumstantial evidence, the government of The Gambia could not help but point accusing fingers at the US complacency. The US is notorious for conspiring to overthrow governments that would not dance to its tune. The timing of the attack was telling. It came barely a month after the US government removed The Gambia from the AGOA trade agreement over gay rights.


However, this doesn’t mean that the two governments do not work together. The two countries cooperate on a number of areas.  There have been meaningful bilateral engagements in the form of military assistance and security cooperation, trade and cultural exchanges, Peace Corps volunteer support and the fight against terrorism and such vices as drug and human trafficking as well as money laundering. 


The United States has undoubtedly found a reliable partner in The Gambia in its global policing ventures against terrorism. In return, the Gambian military through US military assistance, are better equipped to safeguard the country’s territorial sovereignty and contribute restoration of peace where needed. The US is home to a lot of Gambians. In fact, the election of Gambians in political positions in the US demonstrates the conducive environment created for our brothers and sisters there.


With the bouncing back of Joseph D Stafford as the ambassador of the United States to The Gambia, it is our hope that the two countries will open a new page in their relations. Newspaper reports confirmed the arrival on Monday of Mr Stafford, who had previously served in The Gambia. Stafford had an impressive record as head of the US mission, building relations with the people and constructively engaging the government. It is about time that both countries buried the hatchet and work together towards ensuring better relations for mutual benefit.


Saikou Ceesay is the managing editor at Gambia Affairs


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