Boris Johnson is set to be the first British Foreign Secretary to visit its former colony, The Gambia in decades. Relations between The Gambia and the United Kingdom became sour since the taking over of power in a military coup by anti-Western dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Johnson’s visit to The Gambia will also mark the Gambia’s return to the Commonwealth of Nations, a community that Jammeh described as ‘neocolonial.’
“I am also very pleased that Gambia wants to rejoin the Commonwealth and we will ensure this happens in the coming months. The strength of our partnerships show that Global Britain is growing in influence and activity around the world,” he said.
Gambia will be the fourth country to return to the Commonwealth after an exit, following South Africa, Pakistan and Fiji.
Jammeh withdrew the small country from the Commonwealth in October 2013 after the organization raised concerns over deteriorating rights conditions under his regime.
President Adama Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in the polls promised during his campaign to return the country to the Commonwealth.
“I’m delighted to be the first Foreign Secretary to visit Gambia this week and delighted to have a chance to meet the newly elected President [Adama Barrow],” said Johnson.
Barrow was a resident of the UK. He had schooled, worked and lived in North London.
Johnson is also set to visit Ghana where he will be meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo.
UK has left the EU, which is the Gambia’s main development partner. Although it did not play a leading role in scolding Jammeh for his rights abuses and ending the political turmoil sparked by his refusal to leave, Foreign Secretary Johnson hopes his visit will mark a new era in relations with The Gambia.