Britain’s Foreign Secretary Says Gambia to Rejoin Commonwealth ‘As Soon as Possible’
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Gambia, which is seeking to emerge from more than two decades of authoritarian rule, would be readmitted “as fast as possible” to the Commonwealth, a body whose African members he once maligned.
Longtime leader Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled since seizing power in 1994, fled Gambia last month after regional militaries launched an operation to remove him.
In 2013,Yahya Jammeh pulled the country out of the Commonwealth, the grouping including Britain and most of its former colonies, branding it a “neo-colonial institution.”
Johnson met with Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, who won a Dec. 1 election that Yahya Jammeh rejected, on the first leg of his maiden trip to Africa.
Barrow’s new government promises democratic reforms, freeing political prisoners and a truth commission.
Barrow is attempting to reverse many of Jammeh’s most controversial decisions and is also planning to stop Gambia’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
“We are going to admit them as fast as possible. Last night I talked to the Commonwealth secretary general, and she is determined to speed it up and get it done as soon as possible,” Johnson told reporters after the meeting.
“We welcome any effort being made by the newly democratically elected government of The Gambia to try to re-join the Commonwealth,” the body said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Should it decide to apply, we have formal processes which have to be undertaken and membership agreed by the 52 heads of government,” the Commonwealth said.
Johnson continues his Africa tour in Ghana on Wednesday.