Sunday, August 17, 2014

A message from Gunjur

British Ambassador to The Gambia - H.E. Colin Crorkin

Banjul's Standard newspaper reported Thursday on the British Ambassador's visit to the village of Gunjur, in a town hall set-up, to discuss development issues and challenges facing the village and surroundings.  

There, for all intents and purposes, he warned about the impending financial fallout that may result as a result of the continued stonewalling by the regime regarding the demands by the European Union, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and others to meet specific demands relating to the regime's record.  A lot is hanging in the balance that impacts directly communities like Gunjur from across the country. 

Ambassador Colin Crorkin told Gunjurians that they, together with the rest of the country, stand to lose € 150 million in development assistance because of the regime's refusal to come clean on several fronts, ranging from human rights abuses that includes extrajudicial killings to how it manages aid already disbursed. 

What is also striking about the Ambassador's visit was how direct and personal the Ambassador got with the people of Gunjur when he said " I see it my job to establish a closer relationship with the president, the vice president and the foreign minister...and to take forward the relationship so that EDF money, which will be important in helping to create more jobs, is released into the communities for various projects. 

The Ambassador said, in what he hopes will be a 4-year tour of duty in a country that has a history of sending diplomats packing for the most asinine of reasons, Article 8 discussions in April went well and he hopes the November rounds of discussions will produce further progress. 

It is very revealing that The Daily Observer did not report on the Ambassador's visit nor on a very important speech, events which might have added to foreign minister Senghore's woes that led to his swift remove. He's just coming from the US-Africa Summit where the dictator was holed up for almost a full day by Gambian protesters, causing him to miss important events.  Their visit culminated in several altercations between protesters and members of Jammeh's security detail leading to some being invited by the Secret Service and the Washington DC Police for questioning.  

To add to an already chaotic foreign policy situation, the two United Nations missions by the Rapporteurs on Torture and Extrajudicial Killings were abruptly halted by the regime thus breaking a promise Jammeh made to the UN Secretary General last year.  As always, the blame goes to everyone but Jammeh.  As we go to press, Dr. Senghore's replacement has not been named officially which is understandable.  Finding Gambians to serve has become a huge challenge for an increasingly unpopular regime.  It is also a high risk endeavor, with a possible jail time on trumped up charges.  Therefore, trained and experienced Gambians will not risk their careers, especially young professionals, to serve in a disreputable regime like the one in Banjul.