Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The deplorable state of the Embassy in Washington

Gambian Embassy in Washington, contrary to public perception, is as neglected as Gambian Embassies elsewhere.  Because it is Washington, one would expect that the creme of the creme of Gambian diplomacy, like any country that maintains an Embassy in the U.S. capital, would form the staff.  Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, the Embassy is without an Ambassador since the previous holder, Alieu Ngum, left on secondment to join the African Development Bank as Executive Director, representing the constituency that comprises of Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Sudan.

Although a replacement was found in Ambassador Momodou Badgie who is currently serving in Mauritania, the U.S. State Department apparently turn down Jammeh's preferred candidate.  Perhaps, the Americans have had enough of these half-baked folks Gambia insists on sending to one of the most coveted diplomatic postings in the world.

The acting Ambassador Mr. B.H.M.Jallow has been "recalled for consultations", according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' letter to him.  He's left behind his entire family, and given the history of a regime that is in the habit of letting his diplomatic linger in Banjul for months, there's no indication how long the Embassy will be without a regular diplomatic staff.

This brings us to a troubling and ghastly affair of another staff member who is currently at a Washington hospital with a terminal diseases.  He's HIV positive.  He has liver cancer.  He's contracted tuberculous, and has been freely roaming the streets of Washington and the corridors of his office with a highly contagious health condition. This same staff had been at Gambia's diplomatic mission in Cuba for over 10 years and had not bothered to seek treatment.  The troubling aspect of this case epitomizes the carelessness and irresponsibility of Yaya Jammeh and members of his regime.  How many members of the public has this person come in contact with, intimately or otherwise.  What of his wife and three kids?  What's Jammeh reaction to all this - recall the fellow who is on his death bed with multiple terminal ailments.  Where's Jammeh's empathy for his fellow Gambian.

The severe budgetary problems resulting from high level corruption have resulted in under-staffing of all of the Embassies.  Most of these are Embassies are in name only, because they lack the basic elements that makes it a functioning entity.  Jammeh has successfully drained The Gambia of the best the civil service has on offer.  What he's left with are those who have limited options, and must, thus, stay to face the music by tolerating the nonsense that's going on in Banjul.

Finally, since this is about Washington DC, and also since its been two months that Zainab Jammeh last visited the Nation's capital, we wondered why.   Apparently, the American authorities have been extending and expending a disproportionate amount of resources on one single lady who seem to have no other reason to visit Washington but to shop.  Diplomatic courtesies have been severely curtailed which may have had the desired effect.  We hope she stays away, and limits her travel to save scare Gambian resouces in the interest of the Gambian people.