By Lamin Cham
Ebrima Sankareh, the Gambia Government spokesman yesterday told The Standard that he is not aware of reports circulating on the Gambian diasporan media that negotiations have started between The Gambia and Equatorial Guinea to pave way for former president Jammeh to end exile and return to The Gambia as a private citizen.
Gambian Foreign Minister, Mamadou Tangara, recently visited Malabo reportedly accompanied by state intelligence head, Ousman Sowe.
Though the government statement on the visit did not identify the members of the delegation or what specific topics were discussed, online media reported the trip discussed Jammeh’s return.
Contacted on the issue, Spokesman Sankareh said the report “is news” to him. “I know absolutely nothing about this and by principle I don’t discuss things I have no knowledge about,” he said.
Mr Sankareh also said he has no knowledge about the reported interest by the Equitoguinean president Teodoro Obiang to invest in The Gambia and did not know about a planned announcement by the Gambia Government on the issue.
“That too is news to me,” he said.
However, many diplomatic sources cast doubt on the reasons being muted for the Gambian emissaries’ visit to the oil-rich former Spanish colony.
“Reading between the lines, I think the real reason for the visit by Foreign Minister Tangara is the same reason he has been meeting other heads of state in the sub-region. I don’t know the exact reason but it cannot be about allowing Jammeh back like that. Given what he is going to face here, I don’t think Jammeh himself will be too keen on returning to The Gambia now. I think the speculations are just too far off the mark to be deemed credible.”
Neither Minister Tangara nor his aides were available for immediate comment on the matter over the festive period.
The report generated heated debate on Gambian online media with many giving the government a thumbs down for wanting to befriend the former dictator’s friend.