Turning point in Banjul-Dakar ties - As President Wade concludes visit
Thursday, January 07, 2010
A new page has been opened on the longstanding bilateral relations between The Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal, following the conclusion of a working visit by President Maitre Abdoulaye Wade to The Gambia yesterday.
The high-level diplomatic engagement accorded the two leaders the opportunity to append their signatures on important documents meant to consolidate the bond of ties between Banjul and Dakar. The two leaders? yesterday morning met at the Cocoa Ocean Hotel in Bijilo, where a joint communiqué was issued at the end of the working visit and read on their behalf by Ousman Jammeh and Madickeh Niang, Foreign Affairs ministers of The Gambia and Senegal respectively.
In the four-page communiqué, the two leaders expressed the need to consolidate the bond of friendship and cooperation between the two sister republics and reiterated their resolve to work closely for the benefit of their two nations. They also resolved to cooperate fully for the protection of coastal areas and to combat coastal erosion.
?In discussing issues of common concern in the sub-region and the African continent at large,? the communiqué stated, ?the two Heads of State stressed their conviction that there can be no internal stability without regional peace and therefore undertake to cooperate in the fight against all forms of threat to peace, security, and progress in the sub-region and in the African continent?.
The decisions taken during the course of the visit, the communiqué highlighted, included among other things, The Gambia?s decision to waive the requirement of alien cards for Senegalese nationals resident in The Gambia, as well as the agreement on the construction of a bridge over the River Gambia. This, according to the communiqué, is to be managed by The Gambian side, as agreed by the two sides.
The communiqué also further highlighted that the two sides agreed to work constructively towards the reviving of the Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat. ?The two sides further agreed on their resolve to settle jointly, border differences between the two countries through a Consultative Border Commission set up by the two governments to that effect,? the communiqué indicated. His Excellency Maitre Abdoulie Wade then extended an invitation to President Jammeh to visit the Republic of Senegal, an invitation accepted by The Gambian leader.
Peace and security pact
Meanwhile, prior to the reading of the communiqué, Ousman Jammeh and Madickeh Niang, Foreign Affairs ministers of the Republics of The Gambia and Senegal respectively, signed the bilateral agreement between the two nations on peace and security matters. However the content of the agreement was not disclosed in detail, but according to the Joint Communiqué, the move is meant to ensure the enhancing of peace and security in the two countries.
Shortly after the reading of the Joint Communiqué, a press conference was convened at the same venue, a move that gave journalists from both countries an opportunity to ask questions pertaining to the maintenance of the existing longstanding cordial ties between the two countries, as well as clarifying thorny issues.
Responding to journalists, The Senegalese leader began by expressing his gratitude to The Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, the government and the people of the Gambia for the warm reception and generous hospitality accorded to him and his delegation. He described the Gambian people as very receptive, saying he was deeply touched by the tumultuous welcome accorded to him.
Commenting on the controversial issue relating to destabilization efforts of Kukoi Samba Sanyang and other Gambian dissidents in Senegal, President Wade used the opportunity to clarify to the journalists and the general public that his government has ?no interest whatsoever to destabilize The Gambia?. He disclosed that he has issued directives that the Gambian security can come into Senegal at any time, and if they identify any criminal, bring him or her back to The Gambia. He however, said that political dissidents would not be surrendered.
The Senegalese leader further told the pressmen that he has always appreciated and acknowledged the good things taking place in The Gambia thanks to the development-oriented leadership of his counterpart, President Jammeh. For his part, President Jammeh, who promised to pay a state visit to the Republic of Senegal in the near future expressed his gratitude to President Wade for making such an important visit, describing it as a step in the right direction.
The occasion was moderated by Modou Saidy, press officer at State House, and was attended by cabinet ministers and other senior government officials of the two countries, as well as members of the diplomatic community.
After a successful and fulfilling mission to The Gambia, the Senegalese president, Maitre Abdoulaye Wade and delegation left the Banjul International Airport for Dakar. He was seen-off at the airport by President Jammeh, Vice President Njie-Saidy, cabinet ministers, National Assembly members, other senior government officials, members of the diplomatic community and a cross-section of Gambians.
Author: by Hatab Fadera