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FOREIGN MINISTER DARBOE RECEIVES COMMONWEALTH CHARTER AS GAMBIA RETURNS TO THE COMMONWEALTH

The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia, Ousainu Darboe, Thursday, 8th February, 2018 received in his office,officials of the Commonwealth who presented the Commonwealth Charter to him during a media briefing.

The Charter was presented by Ms. Lindiwe Maleleka, Political Officer, Governance and Peace Directorate to the Minister on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Speaking at the occasion, Minister Darboe observed the significance of the day and the quick and positive response from the Commonwealth Secretariat in dispatching a consultant to The Gambia. Thereby, demonstrating the constructive partnership the organisation offers to the country.

"A consultant is in the country, mapping out areas of support in key sectors of Government that will be tabled before the Commonwealth Heads of Government in April, this year," said the Honourable Minister.

He added: "As a nation, we dedicate this great moment to the young people of our beloved Gambia which is known as the Smiling coast of Africa. The membership of The Gambia to the Commonwealth family will once again bring back that smile to the faces of our young people. Our youth will once again benefit from prestigious Commonwealth education and training programmes, and in due course, The Gambia will regain its lost glory."

Minister Darboe expressed optimism that The Gambia will explore opportunities in trade and investment that the Commonwealth offers to its members. This, he said, will help the country expand its economy and effectively participate in the global marketplace.He said the Judiciary will also be able to recruit Judges from other Commonwealth countries.

For her part, Ms. Lindiwe Maleleka, Political Officer, Governance and Peace Directorate of Commonwealth Secretariat, said Commonwealth received with regret The Gambia's exit in 2013. Ms. Maleleka informed that all the 52 member states unanimously approved The Gambia's return to the knit Commonwealth family.

She extended the Commonwealth's invitation to The Gambia to attend the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April in London.

The High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to The Gambia, Her Excellency Sharon Wardle, recalled that, she was not in The Gambia when the decision to withdraw The Gambia was taken. She said during her stay in the country, she had conversation with Gambians, all of whom made it clear that they felt being part of the Commonwealth family in their hearts despite the unilateral decision of the former President to withdraw the country.

She congratulated the Government of The Gambia for the successful conclusion of the re-entry process as well as the 52  Commonwealth member countries whom she said were glad to receive The Gambia back to the Commonwealth. High Commissioner Wardle expressed conviction that The Gambia would uphold the values of good governance, democracy, human rights, equality and freedom of expression, which she said are principles of the Commonwealth. She called on the Commonwealth family to provide assistance to The Gambia.

The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Saffie Sankareh, who also served as Master of Ceremony at the occasion, said, the vision of the new Government is towards the democratisation of The Gambia, strengthening the rule of law, good governance, democracy and the institutions of The Gambia.

She added, the new rekindled relationship would go a long way in complimenting the Government's efforts as it transitions into a democratic state.

Meanwhile, the Ambassadors of the Republics of Nigeria and Sierra Leone graced the occasion.

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