6 December 2010

Gambia: New U.S. Ambassador Unveils Plans

The new ambassador of the United States of America (USA) to The Gambia, Pamela White, has disclosed that her embassy has a heavy package for building the capacity of the members of The Gambia Police Force (GPF) and the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) in the area of peacekeeping missions.

Ambassador White made this disclosure Friday at a press conference held at the American Corner at the Comium Building along Kairaba Avenue. She said her Embassy's capacity building programmes for the country's security personnel in peacekeeping mission is one of the priority areas in which they will be supporting government.

She further disclosed that women and girls development is another priority area they will be actively engaged in. She noted that the US Banjul Embassy has been working cordially with the government of The Gambia even before her coming and the two sides have mutually benefited from each other, something she assured would continue.

Ambassador White also told reporters that as usual, her Embassy will continue to give support in the areas of democracy, good governance and freedom of expression. She described The Gambia as a fine country with the finest and caring people the world might have on offer, adding that though she hasn't stayed long in the country, she has noticed the hospitality of the people.

The Wikileaks scandal

Responding to a question posed to her about her reaction to the current worldwide Wikileaks cable leaks scandal, Ambassador White condemned the act and described it as something that is unforgivable. The act, she said, has seriously tampered with America's delicate and diplomatic confidential information, which she said is not correct. "Of course no country would like such," she stated.

Prior to her appointment as ambassador to The Gambia, White was serving as Mission Director for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Liberia where she managed USAID's second largest development budget in Africa, averaging over US$200 million a year.

She holds the rank of Career Minister, the highest rank within the Foreign Service, and has over 35 years of experience from serving mostly in Africa where she began her public service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon (1971-1973). Ms White joined the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1978 after several years of work in education and research.

In Mali, she worked as Deputy Mission Director for USAID, and is credited with the tripling of the number of girls in primary school, the 200 percent increase in the number of elected women leaders and the doubling of the percentage of children receiving vaccinations. For her extraordinary work she was awarded the highest decoration given to foreigners, the Knight of the National Order of Merit (Ordre national du Mali).


Ambassador Pamela White was confirmed as President Obama's nominee for Ambassador to The Gambia by the U.S. Senate on September 29, 2010 and she presented her credentials to the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhaji Yahya Jammeh on November 29, 2010.

She replaces Barry L Wells, whose diplomatic mission to the country ended some months ago.

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