Gambia has left the Commonwealth of Nations with immediate effect slamming the organisation as ‘neo-colonial’ and extending colonialism apparently after a battle with the organisation over greater protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“(The) government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism,” the Gambian Government said in a statement.
No clear reason was given for Gambia to quit the Commonwealth but it is believed the decision came after the Government there rejected a proposal by the Commonwealth last year to create a commission to protect human rights.
Membership in the 54 member Commonwealth is voluntary.
The Commonwealth proposal followed an April 2012 visit to the Gambia by Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, during which he met with President Yahya Jammeh and other top government officials.
Jammeh is regularly accused of rights abuses and has ruled since 1994. His Administration is under intense pressure to address widespread human rights abuses and undertake reform.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has seen with dismay and disappointment, media coverage on the reported announcement by the Government of The Gambia of its withdrawal from the Commonwealth, a statement from the organisation’s spokesman Richard Uku said.
“We are in touch with the Gambian authorities to follow up on the media reports in order to establish the facts clearly. When clarification is received from the Government of The Gambia, the Commonwealth Secretariat will issue a further statement accordingly,” the spokesman said.