In a flurry of diplomatic activities at the State House in Banjul on Tuesday, 13 November 2018, His Excellency, President Adama Barrow received four new diplomatic envoys accredited to The Gambia.
Diplomats from Sierra Leone, China, Cuba, and India were the first to take turns to present their letters of credence to the president in what is expected to be a busy week of hectic diplomatic engagements. Since his coming to power barely two years ago, ending The Gambia’s global isolation has been at the heart of President Barrow’s foreign policy goals. States all over the globe have responded positively, establishing political and economic ties with the country.
High Commissioner of the
Republic of Sierra Leone
Her Excellency Lucretia Marian Shereef, Sierra Leonean High Commissioner to The Gambia, was first in the lineup of diplomats to meet President Barrow. A career educationist with over thirty years’ experience in teaching, she expressed joy for being designated to The Gambia in a diplomatic capacity, adding that her focus would be on strengthening educational ties between the two countries, among other areas of interests.
President Barrow thanked her country for the mediatory role it played during The Gambia’s political crisis. According to him, he and President Maada Bio are considered to be part of the new crop of democratic leaders in the sub-region, hence their focus should be on promoting integration, democracy, and youth empowerment.
Ambassador of the
People’s Republic of China
For his part, His Excellency Ma Jianchun, the new Chinese Ambassador in Banjul was the next to present his letter of credence to President Adama Barrow. Mr Jianchun comes from a commercial background and has up to 15 years’ experience as a commercial diplomat in Africa and the Middle East. He promised to work with the government of The Gambia in consolidating bilateral ties in the framework of the development blueprint that emanated out of the 2018 Forum for Africa-China Cooperation Summit in Beijing.
President Barrow in extending best wishes to President Xi Jinping expressed hope for the new China-Gambia relations. He also expressed delight that a contractor has already been identified for the two bridges and highways (funded by China) to be constructed in the Upper River Region. This would be followed by the laying of foundation stone soon.
“I am so pleased with the relations of our two countries and my government and I will give all the support we can to China,” President Barrow said, urging for a more close collaboration to enhance economic growth and modernisation of agriculture in The Gambia.
High Commissioner of
The Republic of India
After receiving the letter of credence of the High Commissioner of the Republic of India, Rajeev Kumar, President Barrow expressed appreciation for the support given by India to The Gambia, especially in the areas of education, agriculture, and infrastructure. He particularly thanked the country for the construction of the national assembly building in Banjul.
Value addition to local produce, technological innovations, and health service deliveries are very high on the government’s development blueprint, the National Development Plan, President Barrow said, adding that technology is also a great tool for the empowerment of the youth.
Urging India to open a diplomatic mission in The Gambia to foster closer ties between the two governments and peoples, the president highlighted that India is currently the biggest exporter of cashew nuts from The Gambia.
Ambassador Rajeev Kumar spoke to the State House media corps after the presentation and said his discussion with the President touched on The Gambia’s seaport expansion and development. According to him, The Gambia’s strategic location makes it more preferred gateway for many West African traders.
Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba
The Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Ruben Garcia Abalenda also met the president to present his letter of credence. During the closed-door session, the president also thanked the Cuban leader and her people, through its new ambassador, for standing by The Gambia in its most difficult times. Cuba provided support to the health sector by deploying doctors to The Gambia and training Gambian doctors in Cuba.
Ambassador Abalenda thanked The Gambia for standing in solidarity with the Cuban people over the years.