Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow is attending the United Nation’s 72nd General Assembly in New York from September 16th to 22nd with his delegation. This is President Barrow’s first visit to the United States and the UN since the dramatic election victory that saw the defeat of the country’s former Dictator Yahya Jammeh. President Barrow posting on his face book page announced that he will be addressing the Assembly while his other officials meet other diplomats. He also announced that he will be meeting Gambians in the Diaspora in New York. The UN General Assembly who played a critical role in the political change would have a rousing welcome for Gambia’s new Democratic country.
President Barrow’s visit is historic in that this is the first time a different Gambian President would address the UN General Assembly in 22 years. Former President Jammeh used to address the Assembly with sharp criticism and controversial positions that put Gambia at odds with many members of the UN. For example, the One China policy was something Jammeh was not too enthusiastic about because he had a cash benefits diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. He had called on the UN to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign republic independent of China. This is a policy that China is opposed to without secrets. Jammeh’s appearance at the UN were also marked with other controversies such as condemning homosexuality, human rights defenders and nations calling for Democracy across the world. He was particularly hostile to the West alleging they were out to destabilize his regime. Jammeh’s regime was always under heavy criticism due to human rights violations and suppression of press freedom and democracy.
Another change President Barrow’s visit will highlight is the break Gambian activists who always vow to make life uncomfortable for the former President. His visits to the US has been marked with tension and massive protest to inform the world of human rights issues that existed in the Gambia. The UN General Assembly meetings has been a nightmare for the former president and his family. Though Gambians may still be protest against their current government the scale and tension may not be as contentious.
It is hoped that President Barrow will take advantage of this opportunity to address the General Assembly in a different tone and highlight the challenges of the new Democracy in Gambia. It would be an advantage to also meet the Gambian Diaspora to recognize their role in the change and the opportunities ahead to help build a better democratic Gambia. Many Gambians are gearing up for a town hall style meeting in New York with the President.
A press release from the President’s Office announcing the visit is outlined below:
Fajara, 16 September 2017 – His Excellency, Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia will travel to New York to attend the 72ndsession of the United Nations General Assembly.
This will be the first time that President Barrow will be participating in the UNGA Summit since coming into office. This would accord him the opportunity to address the General Assembly and participate in the general debates, while members of his delegation attend other high level sessions. President Barrow will also meet with Gambians during his visit.
The President and delegation will depart Banjul International Airport tomorrow, Sunday, 17 September 2017 at 10:00 am. Those invited to see him off are requested to be at the airport half an hour before departure for the usual ceremonies.