Gambia rejoins Commonwealth after 5 years

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The Gambia will on Thursday at 11 a.m., rejoin the Commonwealth family, almost five years after leaving the 53-member organisation.

The Gambia’s readmission would be confirmed by 12. 01 a.m. on Thursday after which the Secretariat would announce that The Gambia is rejoining the Commonwealth.

A flag-raising ceremony, at the gardens of Marlborough House, the London headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, would mark its return, said Prof. Barnie Choudhury, Director, Media and Public Relations, Commonwealth Secretariat.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland; Chair, Executive Committee of the Board of Governors, Norman Hamilton; members of the Committee; and The Gambian High Commissioner-to be, Francis Blain, would attend the ceremony.

The decision to begin the process of applying for readmission was made in February 2017 by President Adama Barrow, who came to power following elections in December 2016.

In December 2017, the parliament of The Gambia unanimously affirmed the country’s desire to rejoin the Commonwealth, thereby fulfilling one of the final steps in the organisation’s membership process.

Its application was unanimously supported by the current 52-member states and The Gambia would now be invited to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April in London.

The secretary-general said when The Gambia left in 2013, the heads of government expressed their regret in its leaving the Commonwealth family.

Scotland said: “We’ve looked forward to The Gambia’s return and were delighted when, after his election victory last year, President Barrow pledged to return.

“The Gambia’s application to rejoin has been unanimously accepted by all 52-member states, who welcome back their brothers and sisters to again play their full part in the Commonwealth family.”

Blain, the High Commissioner-to be, also expressed joy that his country was rejoining the Commonwealth.

“I am thrilled to represent my country as it formally rejoins the Commonwealth after an absence of several years and to become High Commissioner rather than Ambassador.

“The Gambia looks forward to being able both to contribute to and benefit from the collective wisdom of the Commonwealth family of countries.

“And to playing an active role in supporting the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the many other organisations and initiatives that flourish as expressions of Commonwealth connection.

“The Government and people of The Gambia will also draw on all that the Commonwealth collectively has to offer, assisting in practical ways to address a wide range of pressing issues.

“These include protecting the environment and tackling climate change, and the empowerment of women and young people,” Blain said.

The Gambia first became a member of the Commonwealth in 1965, when it gained independence from Britain.

There are now 53 members of The Commonwealth, representing more than 2.4 billion people.

The ceremony takes place just two months before the CHOGM.

CHOGM is taking place in London for the first time since 1986, and for the first time in the United Kingdom since the 1997 Edinburgh summit.

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