The Commonwealth Secretariat has reiterated its stance that its doors are wide open and it is ready to re-admit The Gambia back into the fold.
A statement released on Tuesday (February 14) quoted a spokesperson as saying, ‘‘We welcome any effort being made by the newly democratically elected government of The Gambia to try to re-join the Commonwealth.’‘
The statement follows a visit to the West African country by the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who held talks with the Gambian President Adama Barrow.
We looked forward to the country’s eventual return because it was part of our very close knit family and our doors have always remained open.
Ahead of the trip, Johnson was quoted to have said, ‘‘I am also very pleased that Gambia wants to rejoin the Commonwealth and we will ensure this happens in the coming months.’‘
The Commonwealth, however, clarified that should The Gambia apply to rejoin, there were formal processes which have to be undertaken and membership agreed by the 52 heads of government.
“When The Gambia left the Commonwealth in 2013, the heads of government, meeting in Colombo in Sri Lanka that year, noted its decision with regret. We looked forward to the country’s eventual return because it was part of our very close knit family and our doors have always remained open,” the statement concluded.
Exiled President Yahya Jammeh led the Gambia out of the Commonwealth in 2013, The decision to quit the United Kingdom’s league of nations was because Jammeh’s Gambia was not going to be part of any neo-colonial institution.
Subsequently, Jammeh declared the country an Islamic republic in December 2015 as part of efforts to distance it from its colonial past. Jammeh came to power through a bloodless coup in 1994, he was elected in 1996 and reelected continuously in 2001, 2006 and 2011.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of more than 50 independent and sovereign states. Its countries span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries.
Thirty-one members are classified as small states – countries with a population size of 1.5 million people or less and larger member states that share similar characteristics with them. Africa has the highest representation with 18 countries. The Gambia will become the nineteenth upon readmission.