State House, Banjul, 5 March 2018 – President Adama Barrow held engagements with two separate delegations of the Bishop of Banjul and the Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference respectively, today.
Receiving the Bishop of Banjul and his delegation, President Barrow said Gambians are proud that for the first time a Gambian has been ordained as Bishop and appreciated Bishop Mendy’s achievements. The President thanked the outgoing Bishop of Banjul, Robert Patrick Ellison for his service to the country and the bravery he demonstrated to support him during the impasse, which manifested the support of the Christian community. President Barrow emphasised that Muslims and Christians in The Gambia have been living peaceful together. He called on religious leaders to continue to preach peace, good citizenship and unity. He concluded by assuring them of his support and urged all to continue the spirit of unity to succeed as a nation.
The Bishop of Banjul, Gabriel Mendy assured President Barrow of his support and willingness to work with all religious leaders to promote peace and human dignity. He said the Catholic Diocese is committed to the development in The Gambia and has served in the education, health and rural development sectors. The Bishop of Banjul pledged to spread the voice of peace and reconciliation through civic education. He encouraged all to ensure stability and peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims, which he described as unique characteristic of Gambians. He also expressed gratitude to President Barrow and thanked him for the support provided, as well as sending a delegation to represent him at his recent ordination ceremony.
The outgoing Bishop of Banjul, Robert Ellison recalled the support to President Barrow as promotion of democracy and urged him to uphold the Constitution and unite the people. He called on the religious leaders to partner to deliver for the common good. Bishop Ellison said even though The Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, there is respect and understanding between Muslims and Christians. He added that country is a place of hope for interfaith coexistence and would encourage tourists to visit The Gambia.
On his part, Fisheries Minister, Honourable James Gomez said The Gambia going back to what it is known for, peace and tolerance as well as accepting each other, under President Barrow’s leadership. He noted that the presence of Christians in the Barrow cabinet is a demonstration that all citizens have equal rights and can achieve any position no matter their religious background. He reiterated that all should take responsibility to promote peace and good neighbourliness.
In a separate engagement, President Barrow met with the Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, His Excellency, Dr Yousef Bin Ahmed Al Othaimeen and discussed the preparation for the OIC summit of Heads of State in 2019. The President expressed delight for the visit and said The Gambia is willing and ready to host the summit. He added that The Gambia and his government will be honoured to host 57 member countries of the OIC for the first time.
The OIC Secretary General said The Gambia is an important member of the OIC. He observed that the country went through a peaceful transition under the leadership of President Barrow and emphasised the importance of peace. He said his organisation denounces violence associated to Muslims because Islam teaches peace and love. He also cited several OIC partners supporting The Gambia. Dr Al-Othaiman emphasised that promoting private sector engagement to promote economic growth was on the right track to alleviate poverty and create opportunities for the citizens. He observed the friendly nature of Gambians and expressed delight to see the people and learn about the culture.
Vice President, Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang briefed the meeting on the steps taken in preparation for the summit from establishment of a ministerial committee, setting up of a local organising committee and a secretariat.
On his part, Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe, said the hosting of the OIC summit would expose The Gambia to the OIC members and cement bilateral relationship. He added that the visit was an opportunity to learn more about the organisation and the logistical arrangements for the summit.
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