BANJUL (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles congratulated Gambia on Thursday for turning its again on “autocratic” rule at home and returning to the Commonwealth fold as he started a nine-day Africa tour.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow sits with Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at McCarthy Square throughout an official welcome ceremony in Banjul, Gambia November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
The West African former British colony rejoined the Commonwealth in February, 5 years after its now exiled authoritarian former chief Yahya Jammeh pulled Gambia out, dubbing the 54-member group a “neo-colonial institution”.
“We are friends and partners, and once again we are both members of the Commonwealth family of nations,” the prince stated at a ceremony in Banjul’s McCarthy Square, hosted by President Adama Barrow.
Gambia, he stated, was “turning its back on 20 years of autocratic rule in order to embrace a new beginning,” he stated.
Jammeh, who fled Gambia final 12 months after regional militaries launched an operation to take away him, repeatedly clashed with the British authorities over criticism of his government’s human rights document.
Under Jammeh’s 23-year rule, the nation gained a fame as a repressive state the place journalists and political opponents had been jailed, tortured and even murdered.
Barrow, who received a December 2016 election that Jammeh rejected, is trying to rehabilitate Gambia’s picture overseas.
Critics of the Commonwealth see it as an outdated relic of Britain’s imperial previous, whereas advocates say it provides small nations like Gambia a seat on the desk with bigger states, and has potential to enhance life for its 2.four billion residents.
Born of British and French colonial rivalry within the 19th century and surrounded by Francophone Senegal, Gambia – a vacationer haven and groundnut producer – received independence from Britain in 1965.
Prince Charles, who was accompanied by his spouse Camilla, visited a medical analysis facility run by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and an armed forces coaching centre, the place Gambian troops are making ready for a peacekeeping mission in Sudan.
The royal pair will fly to Ghana on Friday and to Nigeria on Nov. 6.
Reporting by Pap Saine and Sofia Christensen, Writing by Cooper Inveen, Editing by Sofia Christensen and Richard Balmforth