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BANJUL, 25 July, 2022: The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, on Thursday 21 July, 2022 graced the 246th Independence anniversary of the United States of America held at the Coco Ocean Resort, Bijilo.

Dr. Tangara delivered a powerful statement on the eve of the celebrations and raised a toast to the excellent bilateral cooperation between the Republic of The Gambia and the United States of America.

“We are duty-bound to support each other and leave no one behind  and I’ll borrow the words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘Let us transform the jangling discords in the world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and friendship’.”

In his remarks, the Honourable Foreign Minister reiterated The Gambia’s gratitude to the Government and people of the United States and reassured them of our friendship and partnership for the benefit of our peoples.

Ambassador Sharon L. Cromer and Foreign Minister Dr. Mamadou Tangara after delivering their speeches, cut a cake, symbolizing the enduring partnership between the United States and The Gambia.

Below is the speech delivered by the Foreign Minister:

Ambassador Sharon L. Cromer,

Cabinet Ministers,

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,

Senior Government Officials,

Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to express my sincere appreciation to the Ambassador and the US Embassy in Banjul for the distinct honor of inviting me, as guest speaker and guest of honor, on this auspicious occasion of the anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.  

246 years ago, men and women decided to rise up against oppression and decided to make their motto the words of a great Latin American thinker, Emillano Zapata Salazar saying  that “Más vale morir de pie… que vivir de rodillas.” which translates to “Is better to die standing than living on your knees. 

It will be remiss of me not to invoke the duty to remember.

The duty to remember that we are celebrating the 246th Anniversary of the Independence of the USA in the Land of Kunta Kinteh. History is full of mysteries that defy the human mind.

Kunta Kinteh was captured on the shores of River Gambia and enslaved in America. In an historical twist one of his great grandsons, in the person of George Haley was sent to The Gambia as the Ambassador of the United States of America.  He diligently carried out his mission in building stronger ties between the two countries.

In the same vein Ambassador Sharon L. Cromer, who is entrusted with the mission of taking the relationship to higher heights, visited The Gambia several years ago as an exchange student, stayed and celebrated Eid with a Gambian family.  Little did she know then that she will one day come back as the US Ambassador to The Gambia.

Welcome home Ambassador!

On behalf of the Government and people of The Gambia and on my own behalf, let me wish you a happy 246th anniversary of your independence. From July 4th, 1776, to this day, your independence endured, and your democratic experiment also flourished to become a beacon of hope for the rest of the freedom-loving world. Today, we pay tribute to your founding fathers for their vision and their steadfast pursuit of the democratic experiment and the American Dream. Democracies inspire hope and that is why we are pursuing the consolidation of our democratic agenda with relevant reforms to spur the development of our country.

From the time of our own independence from colonial rule in 1965, The Gambia chose to establish formal diplomatic relations with the United States. Our friendship and mutual bilateral ties, since then, continue to flourish to this day. Over the many decades of our friendship with the United States, in good and challenging times, you always stood by The Gambia, as a friend and true partner. We pay tribute to our enduring friendship in the sincere hope that our renewed ties will continue to witness greater strengthening and expansion in new areas of cooperation and partnership. As you celebrate the triumph of your democracy, we, in The Gambia continue to be inspired by your example that democracies thrive when strong institutions are built and nurtured. It was inspiring when we saw the United States re-engage with the rest of the world in addressing global concerns. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 2016, it was that same hope and commitment that has been driving our re-engagement with the international community as part of the reform agenda. In a short amount of time, we have expanded our democratic space as evidenced in the expanded media landscape and vibrant civil society participation in the country. We have conducted free and fair presidential and national assembly elections with the participation of local and international observers. We have concluded the first part of the work of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). As a government, we have accepted the recommendations of the Commission and will soon embark on their implementation. The National Commission on Human Rights, which was established for the first time by this Government, is up and running. On the international stage, we continue to champion the promotion of human rights, accountability and rule of law. The reform of our security sector is ongoing. Our judiciary has undergone serious reforms and will continue to undertake more targeted reforms in the foreseeable future. Infrastructure development and improvement has also been boosted by the Government over the past five years.

Reforms are not easy, but they are here to stay, as our commitment to consolidating good governance is an abiding one. Institution building and capacity challenges continue to impact our reform efforts. It is our sincere hope that partners and friends, like the United States, will continue to accompany us on our journey to a renewed Gambia that is a beacon to Africa and the rest of the world.

Madam Ambassador,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to address some highlights and accomplishments in our bilateral relations over the last few years. Madam Ambassador, since your arrival in the Smiling Coast of Africa, we found your positive engagement with various sectors of our society inspiring and encouraging. We are hopeful that your tenure will see a more enhanced expansion of our areas of cooperation. Your recent celebration of the Juneteenth holiday at Kunta Kinteh Island underscored the people-to-people connection that The Gambia had with the United States from historical times. Today, many Gambians call the United States home, and our diaspora constitutes one of the significant drivers of development in the country with their remittances and investments. As our diaspora engagement policy begins to take shape, we pay tribute to them for their contributions to national development.

Madam Ambassador,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me reiterate our gratitude to the Government and people of the United States for your generous donation of Covid-19 vaccines to The Gambia. It was a major boost to our national efforts in the fight against the pandemic. The pandemic, together with other global challenges, continue to negatively impact our economic growth and socio-economic development. We are determined to recover and build back better. In this connection, the government is undertaking stakeholder consultations to develop the new National Development Plan (NDP) with a view to recovering from the current global economic downturn while at the same time implementing the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, for the well-being of our people. 

We call on our friends and partners to sustain and enhance their support to the achievement of our national development priorities. We welcome our renewed engagement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the USAID in this regard. We also welcome our partnership in addressing the phenomenon of trafficking in persons, consolidation of human rights, rule of law and capacity-building for our security forces. Over the past few years, The Gambia has made remarkable progress in its fight against trafficking in persons. We are happy to note that in your 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report, The Gambia was upgraded from a Tier 2 Watch List to a Tier 2 Country. This is ample testimony that our commitment to fighting this scourge remains unwavering. Your continued support and collaboration is highly appreciated. We will continue to count on your partnership as we continue to implement the Action Plan in this regard.

Let me conclude by once again wishing you a happy anniversary and reassure you of our friendship and partnership for the benefit of our peoples. We are a restored democracy that is truly inspired by the evolution of your democracy and its institutions. The democratic experiment is always a work-in-progress, and we are committed to nurturing and consolidating our democratic gains. We aspire to be a beacon for all in Africa and the rest of the world. In this journey, we value the support and contribution of our friends and partners like the United States. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to the world that today more than ever before the world is a global village and as you rightly mentioned in quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 

We are duty-bound to support each other and leave no one behind  and I’ll borrow the words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Let us transform the jangling discords in the world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and friendship.” 

Let us celebrate our friendship. 

I thank you all.

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