By Awa B. Bah

Deputies at the National Assembly on Wednesday 20th March 2019, considered and adopted a motion for the establishment of a parliamentary friendship group between the National Assembly of the Republic of the Gambia and their Cuban counterparts.

The motion which was tabled by the Minority Leader and the Member for Niamina Dankunku Constituency, Samba Jallow, allowed members the opportunity to debate the motion.

In a marathon deliberation for the consideration and adoption of the motion, the mover of the motion said the Gambia and Cuba have enjoyed long standing brotherly relations based on mutual cooperation and understanding; that the two countries share many common interests and purpose in health, agriculture and other areas.

The establishment of this parliamentary friendship according to the Member for Niamina Dankunku, is to enhance cooperation and support between the two legislatures in key relevant areas such as development cooperation, legislative support, and technical assistance, as well as boost people-people relationship amongst others. He said The Gambia and Cuba have been great friends.

Cuba he said, has contributed greatly to the improvement of medical services in the Gambia, through the provision of doctors and nurses; that Cuban doctors, nurses, including their technical and medical collaborators, serve in almost all the regions of the country. Jallow said the presence of the Cuban medical team has greatly improved access to health care delivery in the Gambia. He said the establishment of this parliamentary relationship will continue to strengthen relations and collaboration in other relevant fields, for the mutual cooperation and development of both countries.

The parliamentary friendship between the two legislatures, he said, should be poised to provide the much needed support to enhance the pragmatic cooperation that can benefit their two peoples. He stressed the need for recognizing the great importance Cuba attaches to its relations with the Gambia and said the cordial diplomatic ties between the two countries is based on mutual trust and cooperation. Jallow noted Cuba’s support to the Gambia’s development agenda notably in the health sector; that recognizing the relation between the two legislatures is an important part of the bilateral ties between the two countries.

According to Jallow, the mandate and function of this parliamentary friendship group is to foster inter-parliamentary relationships. He said they will further contribute to the development of the existing bilateral relation, and that the group will serve as the link between the two legislatures regarding all cooperation and support. According to him, Membership to this group shall consist of a Chairperson and eleven others, by a committee in charge of selection.

At this juncture, the floor was opened for debate and consideration of the motion. Majority of the members of the National Assembly supported the motion noting that a developing country like the Gambia needs to align herself with developing countries like Cuba. They said they welcomed the idea of establishing an inter-parliamentary friendship group between the Gambian parliament and that of Cuba. They however called for the need to familiarize themselves with the history of Cuba and their foreign policies.

In his reaction to the concerns raised by his colleagues, the Member for Niamina Dankunku Constituency and mover of the motion Samba Jallow, thanked them for their comments and recommendations. He promised that the relation of the parliaments of these two nations will be in their best interest. The National Assembly finally resolved and adopted the establishment of a parliamentary friendship group between the National Assembly of the Republic of the Gambia and Cuba.

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