By Omar Bah
In the wake of the US Department of State’s decision to expel four Gambian diplomats over allegations of visa fraud, Dr Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, a former foreign minister and diplomat, has urged government to arrest and prosecute the diplomats on their arrival.
In his analysis of the situation, Dr Jobe, a seasoned diplomat and member of the opposition United Democratic Party told The Standard that the scandal is loss of prestige for The Gambia and because they cannot be punished in the United States, and in order to win the respect of the US and other member states the diplomats should be arrested and charged with the offences that they allegedly commit. “In that way, we will prove to the US that we will not accept impunity,” Dr Jobe said.
He further advised that after putting the officials through accountability measures, the government should have a rethink and start sending trained Foreign Service personnel to Washington who will have a correct image of what diplomacy is all about.
Dr Jobe said the foreign minister should take advantage of this situation to plead with President Barrow to recall all the untrained people who have been posted to “our embassies so that what happened to us in America never happen again.”
“We should do everything possible to see to it that the foreign service of this country is respected and quickly restore the mutually trusting relationship with the United States,” he said.
Dr Jobe said the foreign minister Mamadou Tangara should be bold enough to face the president and advise him against making the Foreign Service a dumping ground.
“I am not saying this to denigrate anyone at all. We have seen that all those the president believes he had to compensate because they have served him politically were sent to the Foreign Service, but it is the duty of the foreign minister to tell him that the Foreign Service cannot be a dumping ground,” Jobe said.
Dr Jobe said that even when it comes to the ministry of foreign affairs, people cannot be appointed there without the needed training, much less sent abroad.
“You need a certain amount of training as to how the foreign ministry and international organisations are run, and how to operate in those institutions to be able to get funds for The Gambia and build a solid friendly relationship with those countries in case of need,” he said.
He added that unfortunately in this country it is the accepted case that when you work for a president, you should always do what he wants or get the sack. “But I think at a certain point Tangara must have said to himself, yes, I know this is not right, but if I say something, I will go myself and somebody else will come in. I can understand that from a human point of view, but I think it is a very irresponsible position. I would have resigned,” Dr Jobe, who once resigned as foreign minister said.
He said the scandal at our Washington embassy is a shame. “But one sad thing about this country is that if you tell people that they are not doing things right, automatically, they believe that you are an enemy,” he concluded.