Gambia’s Commonwealth rejoin, a blessing in disguise

Friday, February 09, 2018

Excitement swept across the country as Member States of Commonwealth unanimously accepted back The Gambia to the Commonwealth.

It is a blessing in disguise.

The British Commonwealth is a voluntary, intergovernmental organisation that seeks to promote mutual understanding, friendship and trade.

The Gambia has been withdrawn from the Commonwealth by the former President Yahya Jammeh in 2013 – a move that attracted withering criticism within and outside the country. On Thursday February 8, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad announced the readmission of the country to the Commonwealth after four years of absence.

In December 2017, legislators at the National Assembly unanimously endorsed a motion meant for The Gambia’s to rejoin to Commonwealth.

The motion was tabled by the minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Ousainou Darboe, it sought among other things to make The Gambia once more a fully fledged member of the Commonwealth.

Darboe said before lawmakers that Barrow government deemed it necessary for The Gambia to rejoin the Commonwealth since the country now promotes rule of law, democracy and human rights.

The British Foreign Secretary on Thursday February 8 welcomed the move, saying The Gambia’s return to the Commonwealth family is fantastic news. “When I visited the country last year, I saw huge enthusiasm for the values and opportunities offered by our modern, diverse Commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that The Gambia is ready to regain its former glory on the international stage and reiterates its commitment to the fundamental values of the Commonwealth Charter.

In the United Kingdom, citizens of Commonwealth countries retain the right to vote in general elections and a number of local elections. Commonwealth citizens can have their say, their opinion is appreciated.

In November 2016, Gambians living in the United Kingdom, have been greeted with a notice coming from the U.K. Election office, informing non-British Gambian and Commonwealth citizens about the revocation of their voting rights, and benefits henceforth, following Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of nations, the Freedom Newspaper writes.

The paper added that the devastating news has hit many Gambian homes across the United Kingdom, especially those possessing indefinite leave to remain in the U.K., students, and professionals. Gambians living in Slough, and Birmingham, received their letters of revocation of voting, including other benefits this past week, while the rest of the U.K. were likely to receive their notices.

Commonwealth citizens are technically British subjects, they can avail the support of a British embassy or court in a country where their own nationhood is not represented. Many Commonwealth citizens still hold British passports, it is also far easier for Commonwealth citizens to immigrate to the UK than non-Commonwealth.

“There is nothing as sweet as a comeback, when you are down and out, about to lose, and out of time.”
Anne Lamott