14 February 2017

Gambia to Rejoin Commonwealth, ICC

Photo: The Commonwealth
60th Conference of the Association of Commonwealth Parliamentarians (file photo).

President Adama Barrow made the announcement during a visit from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The move is intended to repair damage done to the country's foriegn relations under former leader Yahya Jammeh.

The Gambia's new government announced on Tuesday that it will not only halt proceedings to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), but that it will also rejoin the British Commonwealth. The move reversed decisions made by longtime former president Yahya Jammeh.

Newly inaugurated President Adama Barrow (pictured above) revealed the decision during a visit from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the first such trip for a British top diplomat. Johnson said he was "very pleased that Gambia wants to rejoin the Commonwealth and we will ensure this happens in the coming months."

Jammeh had removed his country from the association of former members of the British Empire in 2013 after calling it "an extension of colonialism."

Barrow also said on Tuesday that he had notified the United Nations of his government's decision to stay a member of the ICC. Jammeh began withdrawal proceedings last October, saying that the organization unfairly targeted African nations.

"As a new government that has committed itself to the promotion of human rights ... we reaffirm The Gambia's commitment to the principles enshrined in the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court," said a government statement broadcast on state television and radio.

Barrow finally managed to unseat Jammeh in elections in December. Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 coup, initially said he would step down, only to reverse his decision a week later in a bid to cling onto power. After an intervention from ECOWAS, an alliance of west African states, Jammeh went into exile in Equatorial Guinea - after reportedly making off with millions from the state coffers.

es/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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