The Trump administration has reversed a Bush-era penalty that has denied the Gambia access to U.S. aid through the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The Gambia has been reinstated into the MCC after a decade-long restriction, immediately qualifying for smaller grant programs focused on policy and institutional reform.
According to U.S. officials, the selection of The Gambia will give MCC the opportunity to engage with the country on needed reforms as the country continues its democratic transition.
The Gambia was disqualified for the funds in 2006 because of deteriorating human rights conditions under the regime of the West African nation’s former autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh was defeated in the elections last year by a political novice and real estate developer, Adama Barrow. Jammeh was pushed into exile after a political logjam and the country has returned to democratic rule.
Former President Jammeh had total control over government institutions, undermining their functions and disregarding government regulations. He has been accused of corruption, giving contracts to his business associates and ransacking the country’s treasury and reverses bank.
The ex-leader interfered with the judiciary, politicized the civil service, devastated the economy and polarize the security services with civil and human rights abuses.
The move to requalify the Gambia came after President Barrow approved the establishment of a human rights commission and reversed most of Jammeh’s controversial decisions, which were mostly anti-Western.
Barrow has pledged to end corruption, enforce the rule of law, guarantee rights, freedoms and uphold democracy and ensure separation of power. A Commission to probe corruption and rights abuses under Jammeh has been initiated.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. Government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth.
It provides time-limited grants and assistance to poor countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting democratic rights.