Lauding Qatar’s role in helping resolve disputes in the region and across the world, The Gambia has committed itself to always supporting the Gulf nation’s stance in the international community.
The Gambia is wooing Qatari businesses to the West African nation and seeking to repair damaged diplomatic relations that were severed by the erstwhile administration.
“We are a small country but we support Qatar’s voice on various international issues,” said Gambia’s Foreign Minister, Ousainou Darboe.
Qatar had supported the Gambia’s bid to host the largest gathering of Islamic nation leaders. The Gambia will host the OIC Summit next year and will assume chairmanship of the body.
Former President Yahya Jammeh had declared the Gambia an Islamic Republic, flashing rage within the Christian community that already felt deeply marginalized.
President Adama Barrow reversed the controversial decision upon assuming power in January, maintaining the secularity of the small Western African nation.
The Gambia followed a formal policy of nonalignment throughout most of its first post-colonial president, Dawda Jawara’s tenure. But Jammeh had shifted from this policy after ousting Jawara in a coup.
Before his defeat in the elections that brought Mr. Barrow to power last year, Jammeh had severed ties with Taiwan and resumed relations with China.
His administration has since supported China’s position in the South China Sea dispute by clearly saying the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over delimitation in the disputed territory.
Gambia under Barrow seems to be returning to the nonalignment policy. It is repairing broken relations with the United Kingdom, Senegal the European Union and other African nations that were trampled upon by his predecessor.
Jammeh had closed the Gambia’s embassy in Doha after businesses relations in the Gulf state took a nose dive. Jammeh’s brother, Ansumana Jammeh, who oversaw the businesses was the country’s Ambassador to Qatar.
Jammeh had accused Mr. Ansumana of corruption, recalled him and had him prosecuted and jailed. Ansumana’s assets were frozen and released from jail after paying a million dollar fine.
Gambia says it will be reopening its mission in Doha by October in hopes to attract Qatari businesses, strengthen bilateral ties and get assistance from the oil-rich nation, which is only 346 mi² bigger than the Gambia with a GDP that is a 353 times more than that of the Gambia.