His Excellency President Jammeh and his Bissau Guinean counterpart on Tuesday held talks in Banjul during a one-day working visit by His Excellency Jose Mario Vaz, President of Guinea Bissau.

The two leaders discussed an array of issues in a marathon discussion held behind close-doors at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa Hotel in Bijilo few hours after the usual airport ceremonies upon arrival in Banjul.

Since taking office in a historic election in 2014, President Vaz has sought to strengthen ties between Banjul and Bissau. The two countries have a history of strong ties, and his visit to The Gambia is a symbol of those relations.

The two leaders spoke to reporters at the Banjul International Airport following their tete-a-tete. President Vaz said: “I discussed with my brother President Jammeh what is happening in Guinea Bissau as I did in other countries. I came to seek advice for the experience he has and I am leaving this country today with good lessons from his experience. The Gambia and Guinea Bissau are one people and all that we have to do is to nurture the relationship between the two countries. We are two sister countries and if one of us has a problem, then one has to explain to the other so that we can find solutions and this is what brought me in Gambia to explain to my brother of what is happening in Guinea Bissau.”

President Jammeh for his part thanked his Bissau Guinean counterpart for the visit. “He is a brother and a true friend. The Gambia-Guinea Bissau relations are the best in the sub-region. We are the same and we have good intentions towards each other as we consult regularly on a number of issues. He [President Vaz] is always concerned about The Gambia and for the first time, ECOWAS did a good job by coming up with an agreement and hope if implemented, will solve forever the problem of Guinea Bissau.”

As recommended by ECOWAS, the Gambian leader said the main source of the problem in Guinea Bissau is the constitution. He said they [Guinea Bissau] have taken a constitution that is alien to the culture where the Prime Minister is the head of government and the President is just a figure head and the President doesn’t have much power and so is creating a lot of problems. Also based on that, he added that the constitution also guarantees some very expensive privileges for veterans in Guinea Bissau.

“This has become a problem in Guinea Bissau, so unless the constitution is reformed and the armed and security forces, there will always be instability in Guinea Bissau and this is what I have been calling for both at the level of ECOWAS and the African Union; now all what they rejected earlier, is what they have finally accepted as the only solution to Guinea Bissau’s problem. [The reformation of the constitution and the security sector] I think this will solve the problem of Guinea and I am encouraging him [the Bissau Guinean President] to be steadfast in implementing what he has already signed.”

President Jammeh added that the current agreement put in place by ECOWAS is the best to solve the problem of Guinea Bissau definitively. He vowed not to compromise the security of the country.

“There will be no compromise be it any organisation or body, security is security and I will not compromise with the security and stability. So we are working together to help him, help Guinea Bissau to safeguard her natural resources,” he said.

Arrival ceremony

At the Banjul International Airport, the Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, received the Bissau Guinean President on arrival. They later headed to the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa where he was installed before finally departing late in the evening.

by Musa Ndow