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Foreign Minister's maiden statement with members of the Diplomatic and Consular corp

Your Excellency, Dean of the Diplomatic Corp, Ambassador Mohamed
Nasser Akaabi, Ambassador of the Republic of Qatar to The Gambia,
Ambassadors,
Consul Generals,
Charge d’Affaires,
Head of the UN system,
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman

I would like to begin by welcoming your Excellencies to this maiden
meeting which affords me the opportunity to formally meet with you in
my capacity as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, International
Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia.

I wish to thank you for honoring my invitation to this event and to
express the Government of The Gambia’s great appreciation of the
immense– and I must add- effective role played by your respective
Governments and Organizations in ensuring that a peaceful transition
to a new political dispensation happened in The Gambia and more
importantly, for ensuring that the will of The Gambian people was
upheld in accordance with the declared outcome of the December 2016
elections. I must register a special debt of gratitude to ECOWAS for
the indefatigable leadership and courage that it demonstrated in
resolving our political crisis. In a similar vein, we thank the UN and
AU for the coordinated leadership they have all demonstrated in
finding a durable solution. Allow me to particularly thank the sister
Republic of Senegal for standing resolutely by us at this critical
juncture in our history. In this new dispensation, our ties with
Senegal will grow stronger and our cooperation will become more
meaningful for the benefit of our peoples.
Today’s maiden meeting between my person and Your Excellencies enables
me to once again register my appreciation to His Excellency President
Adama Barrow, for the confidence bestowed in me by appointing me as
Minister of Foreign Affairs.I would also like to profoundly thank the
people The Gambia, the Gambian electorate, the Diaspora and your
Governments and indeed, all international organizations for their
support and encouragement during my recent trying and difficult
moments as a political prisoner. I must state for the records that
without this widespread and sustained condemnation of the injustice
meted out against Gambians, I and my fellow political prisoners
wouldn’t have come this far. We are therefore indebted to you and the
Governments/institutions you represent.

The past few years has seen our self-imposed isolation resulting in
uneasy relationships with some Governments and institutions with which
we have bilateral relations. We will mend broken ties and deepen our
cooperation with all of you. We urge your Governments to resume
development cooperation with the new Government as embark on the task
of socio-economic transformation. President Barrow has set up a
think-tank that will soon advise the Government on policies and
programmes that will usher in a transformative agenda for economic
growth and job creation. Our youth need decent employment. All of you
can help in that drive. We will count on you.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

As is the case in similar institutions, my mandate is varied and
numerous. By the same token, I also recognize in my capacity as leader
of this Ministry that the challenges ahead are equally varied and
numerous. At this material time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs faces
grave challenges which are a result of incessant and unwarranted doses
of inappropriate foreign policy drive/focus over the years.

I am however not daunted by the scale of the tasks ahead but rather
honored to have this prospect of leading and contributing to the
rebirth of a new Gambia.

It is thus appropriate at this stage for me to happily announce to
Your Excellencies and also respectfully request that you convey to
your respective Governments and Organizations this message that
following a dark chapter in our nation’s political history, the
REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA WILL RISE AGAIN! YES, I repeat, THE GAMBIA WILL
RISE AGAIN!

It is worthy to note that in pursuit of this vision, the Barrow
Administration will partner with all stakeholders to ensure that The
Gambia regains its rightful position as a responsible and contributing
member in the comity of nations.

As a new administration, I would like to re-affirm that the Government
of The Gambia including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is committed
to our agenda that is aimed at restoring rule of law, good governance
and the creation of equitable socio-economic development for its
citizens. To achieve these, we will prioritize the assessment of all
our institutions, in terms of systems, processes and human resources
capacity with the aim of strengthening them to ensure that we remain
firm on the path to sustainable development.We will embark on reforms,
including constitutional and legislative reforms that will usher in an
era of democracy and respect for human rights. We will reclaim our
status as the Human Rights Capital of Africa. We will also endeavor to
reform our civil service and the security sector. As we undertake
these reforms we will need your support and policy guidance.

The Gambia is also poised to engage with its partners in establishing
a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that will hopefully bring
closure to 22 years of tyrannical rule.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

As His Excellency the President has clearly stated The Gambia is back
again. We have been isolated for so many years and we want The Gambia
to be very active again. We recommit to the friendly and Smiling Coast
of Africa profile and equally renew our commitment to all
international organizations, including the Commonwealth. We also
uphold ourselves to respect all international conventions as we usher
in the new Gambia.
Specifically, I would like to confirm that the new Government is
committed to the SDGs, and the AU Agenda 2063. To fulfill its mandate,
Government will also build effective partnerships at both bilateral
and multilateral levels and with both northern and southern nations.

I therefore trust that having shared our vision with you our valued
development partners, The Government of The Gambia, in general, and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in particular, can look forward to a
renewed and mutually beneficial partnership with all of you present
here today.

I will conclude by once again thanking you for your presence and I
look forward to a successful partnership. We immensely value your
friendship and support. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International
Cooperation and Gambian Abroad is your first port of call and do not
hesitate to bring your concerns forward so that mutually agreeable
solutions could be worked out between us. My doors are open to you.
Have a pleasant day.
Long live The Republic of The Gambia!

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