By Amie Sanneh

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad Ousainou Darboe, has disclosed that The Gambia is expected to put forward its formal application for re-entry before the next Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in April, 2018. The Foreign Affairs Minister made the disclosure at the National Assembly yesterday while seeking support from deputies to consider and adopt the motion for “Support for the re-entry of the Republic of The Gambia to the Commonwealth of Nations”. He described the endorsement of the National Assembly as important in this regard and regretted the unilateral withdrawal of The Gambia from the organisation, by former president Jammeh. This he said, is considered to be a major low point in the foreign relations of the Gambia. “The decision to withdraw the Gambia was not made in consultation with the National Assembly, the general public or government institutions that benefited from the country’s membership of the Commonwealth,” he said.

Mr. Darboe told Deputies that the country’s premature departure from the Commonwealth, neglected its strategic interest in pivotal sectors which over the years, have immensely benefited from numerous technical assistance and support that the membership of the Commonwealth guaranteed; that this diminished The Gambia’s voice on pertinent issues at the global platform such as climate change, economic development and south-south cooperation, which he said, are vital to the development of our nation.

Mr. Darboe stressed that it is significant for the country to join the Commonwealth as an effective network for cooperation and promoting development, considering that they are in an era of changing economic circumstances and uncertainty, new trade and economic patterns, unprecedented threats to peace and security and a surge in popular demand for democracy, human rights and broadened economic opportunities.

The foreign affairs minister also described the Commonwealth as a voluntary association of independent and equal sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and cooperating in the common interests of their people and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace, and influencing international society to the benefit of all, through the pursuit of common principles and values; that Government recognises that the strength of the Commonwealth lies in the combination of their diversity and shared inheritance in language, culture and the rule of law; that they also recognise the intergovernmental role of the Commonwealth with small states, advocating for their special needs, providing policy advice on political, economic and social development issues and delivering technical assistance amongst others.

Mr. Darboe used the opportunity to highlight the benefits derived from being a member of the Commonwealth such as employment opportunities, scholarships, promotion of democracy and respect for the rule of law, military assistance and assistance to war torn member countries.

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