The last seven months witnessed a significant step in The Gambia’s re-entrance into the Comity of Nations, with high-profile visits from across world; presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, among others.
Just to give you a taste of what you might have missed or forgotten, we bring you three global icons, who, it turned out, were visiting the Smiling Coast for the first time, starting from October 2018.
AFRICA’S HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF
Since The Gambia’s emergence from the 2016 political impasse that almost plunged the country into war, several global leaders have stormed the country to give moral support as Gambians heal from over two decades of dictatorship.
Prominent among which is His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission who jetted into the country on 4th October 2018, becoming the first sitting Chairperson of the Commission to visit the Smiling Coast.
H.E Moussa Faki Mahamat was received at the foot of the aircraft by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr Mamadou Tangara. The human rights chief had a string of fruitful meetings with Gambian officials during his visit and had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on the president, His Excellency Adama Barrow at State House in the capital Banjul.
Honourable Tangara congratulated the Chairperson for his leadership in peace-building and security throughout Africa, citing the Horn of Africa after Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea signed the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation on 5th September 2018.
The Chairperson and team wrapped up their visit with a tour of the headquarters of the African Union Commission in Bijilo
THE ROYAL VISIT
There is no visit in recent memory that had generated more excitement among Gambians than that of their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camila.
The Royal visit to The Gambia was meant to celebrate the country’s return to the Commonwealth back in February 2018, which ultimately reversed the decision taken by the former head of state to pull the country out of the intergovernmental organization in 2013, which The Gambia first became a member on its independence from Britain in 1965.
The Prince of Wales, heir to the throne, took over as head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations in April 2018, succeeding his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Thousands of people lined on the roads from the airport on 31st October 2018 to welcome the first Royal visit to The Gambia in more than half a century, the last being Her Majesty the Queen herself shortly before independence.
H.E President Adama Barrow said the Royal visit and The Gambia’s earlier re-admission into the Commonwealth are clear demonstration of his government’s commitment to strengthening international relations with the UK.
While expressing appreciation for the warm welcome, Prince Charles said: “UK-The Gambia would work together in helping to address the most pressing challenges of our times, climate change, youth unemployment, and respect for human rights. These would be done by harnessing the experience and knowledge from The Gambia and the United Kingdom.”
The Royal visit was arguably the most symbolic visit in the new dispensation.
CHINESE TOP DIPLOMAT
On the 5th January 2019, just five days into the New Year, the Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister H.E WANG Yi, arrived in Banjul for a two-day visit, making him the most high-profile Chinese official to visit The Gambia since the resumption of diplomatic relations in 2016.
H.E WANG Yi and his delegation were received at the airport by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr Mamadou Tangara and other senior government officials.
During his visit, the top Chinese diplomat had a bilateral meeting with government officials before meeting President Adama Barrow.