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“Welcoming the return to the Commonwealth”
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“Welcoming the return to the Commonwealth”

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Michael Gyekye new picThe UK’s foreign secretary recently made history with a visit to the Gambia, and followed that with an upbeat message for Ghana. Michael Gyekye, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Ghana, reports on Boris Johnson’s mission and message.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson welcomed the Gambia’s decision to return to the Commonwealth following his meeting with new Gambian President Adama Barrow, in the Gambian capital Banjul recently. The Gambia pulled out of the Commonwealth nearly four years ago as it condemned it as a “neo-colonial institution”. Mr. Johnson is the first UK Foreign Secretary to visit the Gambia, a former British colony in West Africa, since its independence in 1965.

Mr. Johnson has also pledged the UK’s support for the reconstruction of the Gambia as it emerges from decades of authoritarian rule, international isolation and economic stagnation under former strongman Yahya Jammeh.

“The Gambia is on its path back to the Commonwealth and we are here to offer assistance in the areas of education, infrastructure, security and the tourism industry”, Mr. Johnson told reporters after his meeting with President Barrow.

“We are going to admit them [the Gambia] as fast as possible. … I talked to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and she is determined to speed it up and get it done as soon as possible.” Mr. John also said.

A regular fixture in international headlines in recent times, the Gambia edged to the brink of post-election violence as autocrat Yahya Jammeh rescinded his decision to relinquish power to the winner of his country’s December Presidential elections, Adama Barrow. The threatened chaos was averted thanks to the swift and unrelenting diplomatic efforts of sub-regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Mr. Johnson also inspected a UK-supported medical facility in the Gambia before heading to his next West African destination, Ghana, which is also emerging from a recent political transition.

After a closed-door meeting with new Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo at the Flagstaff House (Ghana’s seat of government), the two said in a subsequent press conference that they held discussions on bilateral matters and issues touching on the general security of the West African sub-region.

Mr. Johnson also told reporters: “We hope to have a deeper friendship going forward. Particularly we want to make sure that British firms come here in even greater numbers and greater strength to invest in Ghana and take advantage of the fantastic opportunities that are in this wonderful country.”

President Akufo-Addo also remarked: “I think a lot of work is being done to make sure the relations between us continue to be on an even keel.”

Among his subsequent local engagements, Mr. Johnson met with a Ghanaian beneficiary of the UK government’s Enhancing Growth in New Enterprises (ENGINE) project, Mr. Kwabena Danso, Chief Executive Officer of Boomers International, a local outfit engaged in locally-made bicycles from bamboo materials.

A known bicycle lover, Mr. Johnson expressed his delight with the locally-made bicycle but guess what he did prior?

He took a test ride of the bicycle!

Reach me on Facebook at Michael Adu Gyekye

Photo credit: publicdomainphotography Peace Symbol with National Flag of The Gambia via photopin (license)
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About me: I aspire to be a communications, management and policy development consultant. I am a graduate of B. A Political Studies from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. I am especially interested in politics, business, technology and sports. I love to read, write, facilitate programs, offer analytical commentary and travel.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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