Fixing broken ties between The Gambia and the world is at the top of President Adama Barrow’s foreign policy agenda, although he is drifting from the earlier plan of non-alignment.
Barrow has already solidified the once broken ties with Senegal and has the full support of his neighbors, especially Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
These countries took the lead in backing him with military intervention to assume power. But some of his neighbors, mainly Mauritania and Guinea opposed the use of force to flush Barrow’s rival, Yahya Jammeh from power.
Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdul Aziz was part of the last minute diplomatic push for Jammeh to step aside peacefully, but he and Guinea’s Alpha Conde pushed for an agreement that would see Jammeh’s assets go untouched and given a chance to return.
They were close allies of Jammeh. Jammeh even declared the Gambia an Islamic republic, second in West Africa to do so after Mauritania, a decision Barrow reversed.
But with Barrow’s government now in control, Abdul Aziz took smart turn extending a hand of friendship and cooperation with Barrow.
He attended Barrow’s inauguration and sent a new ambassador, El Hacen Mohamed Awan to Banjul. President Barrow also sent a new ambassador, Mawdo Juwara to Mauritania.
Juwara presented his letter of credence to President Abdul Aziz on Tuesday. Juwara conveyed President Adama Barrow’s ardent desire and resolve to further strengthen ties between the two nations.
Mauritanians own a good chunk of small businesses in The Gambia being an important economic bloc for the nation of fewer than two million people. Gambians, however, said they are not well treated in Mauritania, where blacks are still regarded slaves in some parts.
The trade between the two countries is expected to rise now that border closures between Gambia and Senegal seem to be a tale not to be repeated.
Gambia is surrounded on all three sides by Senegal, except for the Atlantic Coast on the west. A large part of the Gambia’s livestock import comes from Mauritania. The border closures between the Gambia and Senegal under then-President Jammeh affected trade.
Barrow and Abdul Aziz are taking advantage of the new regional friendship, enhancing bilateral cooperation and expanding the scope of possibilities for collaboration in other sectors of mutual benefit.
But amid of all of these great anticipations, some loyalists of Gambia’s former President Jammeh are thought to be in hiding in Mauritania and plotting an armed opposition to Barrow’s rule.
Mauritania has denied the reports and said military deserters from the Gambia’s Army are not hiding in their country. Gambia on Friday instituted a court-martial prosecuting a dozen soldiers for an attempted coup to topple Barrow’s regime.