Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow has returned his country to the Commonwealth, five years after the West African nation’s former dictator Yahya Jammeh severed ties with the “neo-colonial institution.”
The country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ousainou Darboe described the readmission into the international body as a “historic milestone” while receiving the Commonwealth Charter in the island capital, Banjul.
“The withdrawal of The Gambia from the Commonwealth was a unilateral decision by the former president and not the will of the Gambian People,” Darboe said.
At a joint press briefing at Gambia’s foreign affairs ministry, the Commonwealth High Commissioner to the country, Sharon Wardle, said they are “enthusiastic to be welcoming The Gambia back to Commonwealth.”
Last week, the Commonwealth accepted Gambia’s application to return to the body following expression of interest from Banjul to that effect.
The Gambia’s application had been approved unanimously by the Commonwealth Member States. The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Gambia’s return to the Commonwealth family is “fantastic news.”
“When I visited the country last year, I saw huge enthusiasm for the values and opportunities offered by our modern, diverse Commonwealth,” Johnson said in a statement.
“This shows that when a country commits to strengthening democracy, governance and the rule of law, it is welcomed back to the international community and the Commonwealth family.”
Gambia’s flag was hoisted at Malbrough House in London, the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nation, a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states.
The organization is home to 2.4 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Thirty of its members are small states, many of which are island nations and former British colonies.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)