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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Sleaze at our embassies

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Over the past few years, there have been many reports of problems happening in The Gambia’s foreign embassies in different parts of the world. These include visa scams, administrative fraud, economic malfeasance and sex scandals. And of course physical fights between an ambassador and staff member of the embassy.

The latest incident, according to media reports, concerns The Gambia’s missions in Havana, Cuba and Nouakchott, Mauritania. The deputy ambassador in Nouakchott has been recalled allegedly over financial misappropriation. In Havana, the ambassador Sheikh Tijan Hydara and the deputy ambassador have been recalled after an altercation between them ended up in a physical tussle in their office. Sex and graft have been mentioned but we could only confirm the latter.

We can recall the sex scandals that rocked two of our top diplomats in Russia and the bizarre incident in Morocco when The Gambia’s ambassador and a senior staff member engaged in pugilism leading to one biting the finger of the other! At this medium have are privy to a lot of simmering issues bubbling at some of our embassies and it does not bode well.

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To say that these are embarrassing is putting it mildly. These tales are unedifying and giving a bad name to the country. Diplomats representing the country physically fighting over financial matters and women in foreign lands are the last thing one should expect to hear. This paper reported that government has already dispatched an investigation team to Havana to seek answers to what transpired.

This brings to focus the calibre of people the country appoints in the foreign missions. If we appoint the right people the country stands to gain a lot but if we appoint mediocre and plain housekeeping type of people, the result will always be damning.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, should ensure that whoever is chosen to be sent abroad is thoroughly scrutinised to see if they are fit for purpose. He should make the president listen to his advice even with regard to the appointment of ambassadors.

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Any individual who is identified to represent The Gambia in foreign lands must be someone whose character is beyond reproach. The individual must be a person of requisite competence and integrity who has the country at heart. The foreign service should not be regarded as a dumping place for retired generals and geriatric politicians.

We should select the best to represent us in foreign capitals. We need ambassadors and diplomats who understand diplomacy in all its configurations. If we have those, there will be few if any scandals in our missions and the country will reap the rewards of their creative diplomatic engagements. This is what the former permanent secretary Saffie Sankareh-Farage understood. She stands vindicated now.

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