Your Excellency, Dean of the Diplomatic Corp, Ambassador Mohamed Nasser Akaabi, Ambassador of the Republic of Qatar to The Gambia,
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