By: Kebba AF Touray
Visiting Indian president and his Gambian counterpart have resolved to strengthen the bilateral relationship that exists between their two states. This was disclosed at the State House yesterday during a press briefing with Journalists, as part of activities of the visiting Indian President to The Gambia.
Shir Ram Nath Kovind, the Indian President said Gambia and India have a long-standing bond of fraternal relations; that as two Anglophone democracies, the two states are now both members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
“I had fruitful discussions with President Barrow. I felicitated him on his determination to foster greater democracy and inclusive growth and the steps he has taken towards stability and nation building. We reviewed the invaluable spectrum of our bilateral relations and discussed national and global issues for the mutual benefit of both countries. I convey India’s deep commitment to enhance the traditional ties with the Gambia and to contribute to its development. We agreed that we should expand our partnership in the spirit of South-South cooperation for the progress, prosperity and development of our two peoples. I also convey the same transformation in India-Africa relations,” he said. The visiting Indian president said they signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation inter alia, to further their bilateral agenda. He said: “To take it forward, we are keen to implement a grant-based solar project in selective villages in The Gambia. We are aware that the Gambia is keen to achieve good governance, accountability, social cohesion and national reconciliation. We revitalized and transformed the economy under its National Development Plan 2018-2021.” He informed that they have specific areas of cooperation and have decided to extend assistance of half a billion US dollars to support the artistic industry and skills development. He said they have also agreed to offer training in the fields of the Judiciary, Police and Administration, and Technical Expertise.
“We also agreed to work in close coordination at the United Nations, to strengthen the global fight against terrorism. I also convey my appreciation to the Gambia Government for the support it has given to the Indian community in the Gambia.” President Kovind reiterated that India remains committed to partner with the Gambia in its progress and prosperity. He concludes: ‘‘We look forward to our continued friendship and ever-growing partnership based on mutual trust and confidence”.
On his part, President Adama Barrow in confirming the remarks made by his Indian counterpart, described India as the biggest democracy that the Gambia can learn from, and urged that Africans countries should emulate India in the conduct of peaceful elections. He said: “The Gambia’s GDP debt stands at 120 percent and we appealed to India for debt relief and they have given the Gambia a debt relief of five years to assist the country to implement some of its projects.’’