Africa > West Africa > Gambia > President Yahya Jammeh taken his country out of the Commonwealth,

Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh taken his country out of the Commonwealth,


President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has unilaterally taken his country out of the Commonwealth, becoming the initial African leader to do so since President Robert Mugabe took Zimbabwe out in 2003.

A statement reportedly issued late Wednesday said the "government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will at no time be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will at no time be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism".

Gambian-born Sulayman Nyang, senior professor and former chair of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. said some western governments' rejection of Jammeh's anti-gay rhetoric and dismal human rights record may be two reasons behind his decision.

"If he [Jammeh] made this statement, there are two underlying reasons behind the decision. One, in my opinion is the fact that at the same time as President Jammeh went to the UN, he came out categorically against the gay movement. So for that reason, he is definitely at loggerheads with the Prime Minister of Great Britain who has been very strong in support of gay groups," he said.

Some western governments, Britain in particular, has threatened to withhold aid because of Jammeh's anti-gay stance. Nyang said the Gambian leader has adopted the old African nationalist position not to kowtow to imperialists.

Addressing parliament last year, Jammeh some western governments of trying to instill gay culture in the Gambia.

"If you are going to give us aid money for men and men or for women and women to marry, please leave it. We don't need your aid money because as far as I am the President of the Gambia, you will at no time see that happen in this country," the Gambian leader said.

Nyang said Jammeh's notorious human rights record could as well an extra reason for taking his country out of the Commonwealth.

"At the same time as all the facts come to light, you are going to see people looking at Jammeh at two levels. Those who are fighting for human rights will tell the story of Jammeh and his dictatorship. So, what I am emphasizing once again is that this decision of Jammeh is as well occasioned not only by his national the UN against gay groups, but as well because of the fact that he is very much aware of the fact that those who opposed to him are going to connect the dots, and some of those dots will lead him to [to former Liberian President] Charles Taylor and all the dictators in Africa," he said.

He said even African nationalists such as Ghana's founding president Kwame Nkrumah at no time broke away from the Commonwealth.

"The only time Kwame Nkrumah only had problem was at the same time as [former British] Prime Minister [Harold] Wilson gave that famous, unacceptable statement to Africans at the time. And there were some Africans who were beginning to have the idea that if Wilson is not willing to suppress the government of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia, again why should we be dancing to the British music?" Nyang said.

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