By Kebba Jeffang
The reinstated 22 Gambia ambassadors on Monday, February 20, held talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians abroad ahead of their departure upon attending the country’s 52nd independence and inauguration of President Adama Barrow.
According to official of the ministry, the diplomats met the new minister for introduction purposes as well as to put contributions ahead of the new foreign policy validation.
Mr. Lamin Faati, Permanent Secretary 2 of Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there is a new government in place and it is important for the diplomats to use the opportunity to meet the minister. He recalled that during the impasse these ambassadors put pressure on the former government to relinquish power.
“They are invited to come and attend the inauguration of President Barrow as well as the Independence festivities. As ministry of Foreign Affairs, we decided to have an interaction with the minister since they are in the forefront of diplomacy and foreign policy. It was thought that such gathering is not just for introduction purpose, but also to task them to continue working in the interest of the Gambia,” said PS Faati.
Mr. Dembo Badjie, Dean of Gambian diplomats and ambassador to the peoples’ republic of China said some months back the ambassadors articulated their views on the prevailing circumstances in the country at the time because they felt that diplomacy is about image. He said on the 2nd December, 2016 the Gambia was on the world map for all the right reasons and again on the 9th December the country was on the world map for all wrong reasons.
“As the representatives of the country abroad we felt that it is our professional duty to speak out on the issues and ask the former government to step down to ensure the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect at the time Mr. Adama Barrow in accordance with the will of the Gambian people. All the ambassadors in this room were united on the issue up till now and we make no regret or apology for making that decision because we serve the supreme interest of the country and not holding brief for anyone,” he said.
He thanked the government for reinstating them on their positions when the decision was made for their jobs to be terminated.
“In that regard, we can assure you that we will remain resolutely committed to supporting the government and we will continue to do our job professionally in the best interest of the government of The Gambia and the Gambia,” ambassador Badjie expressed.
Mr. Ousainou Darboe, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad thanked the ambassadors for the step they have taken during the difficult time. He said their step to call on the former president Yahya Jammeh has influenced the process.
“You have shown the world that when it comes to push, you are prepared to give the Gambia good image as our image has been tarnished. We are grateful for that. Your reinstatement was done in pursuit of our policy. We do not believe that any person serving in the former government should have his or her services temporarily dispensed with because we believe in due process. We cannot dismiss any public officer just because he or she disagrees with our views. Your reinstatement is a reflection of our policies,” said the foreign minister.
Mr. Darboe said all missions are important but they are very much concerned about the missions in Washington, United Nations, United Kingdom, and Ethiopia as headquarters of African Union, Nigeria as headquarters of the ECOWAS. He emphasized that all other missions are very much necessary as the ‘new Gambia’ is ready to work with all nations particularly neighbouring Senegal