“We have seen and been through a lot over the past three years. Of course, many challenges remain, but I am optimistic about the future,” Sharon Wardle said to the press corps after her audience with President Barrow this morning.
High Commissioner Wardle arrived in The Gambia in 2017, when the country was beginning the search for new solutions to its past governance, human rights and economic challenges. This week, she is leaving for London after completing her tour of duty in Banjul.
Her departure is happening at a time when the country and the world are facing “unprecedented” challenges of COVID-19. Nonetheless, she described her departure as “a sad moment” for her after feeling home in The Gambia over these years.
“I genuinely feel that the foundations are being laid for a more prosperous, more secure future for The Gambia. The transition journey is not yet done... The next 18 months will continue to be crucial to The Gambia and we will continue to render our unflinching support to the transition journey,” she said.
The UK funded several components of the government’s National Development Plan 2018-2021, including strengthening the National Assembly, the Judiciary; support to the Ministry of Justice on transitional justice programmes, the environment and many other areas of bilateral support.
The two countries shared a long history. The UK had been a strong bilateral friend of The Gambia in the first republic until 1994, when relations weakened due to the infamous military coup. However, President Barrow’s government was readmitted into the Commonwealth, with a visit to London and a meeting with the Queen of England.