By Modou S. Joof
“It is unfortunate that The Gambia’s voice will no longer be heard in this [commonwealth] forum,” the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said.
A UK FCO spokesperson said the UK notes The Gambia’s decision to leave the Commonwealth of Nations.
The West African nation stunned the 54-member Commonwealth, mainly of British former colonies, on October 2 when it announced it was leaving the body with “immediate effect”.
“The decision to leave the Commonwealth was made based on the principle that we do not want to be part of any colonial or neo-colonial institution,” The Gambia explained six days later, on October 7.
The Commonwealth family brings together almost a third of the world’s population to promote peace, prosperity and improve the lives of all peoples of the Commonwealth, the FCO explains.
Its policies are shaped by member countries, who each have an equal say on the decisions that affect them, it added.
But it described as “unfortunate” the fact that The Gambia’s exit means its voice will no longer be heard in this forum.
According to an FCO spokesperson “the UK and The Gambia have a long history and strong cultural and family connections bind our people together”.
“We continue to build a long-term partnership with The Gambia for generations ahead. The UK is a friend of The Gambia and its people and it is in the interest of both countries to sustain a broad based relationship,” he said.
However, the Government of The Gambia under the leadership of President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya AJJ Jammeh has said the decision to leave the Commonwealth of Nations “is final and not subject to negotiation.”
“We have reached a point of no return in our decision to leave the Commonwealth and this is non-negotiable,” a statement from the presidency stated last Monday.
Meanwhile, opposition leaders in the country have criticised the government over the withdrawal citing the undue disadvantages it poses to The Gambia and her citizens and the lost benefits especially on good governance and human rights.