News Opinion


Written by: Baba Abu Bakr Drammeh, Former Ambassador / Imam Rateb of Sinteet Village

Diplomacy is essentially aimed at establishing a mutual understanding between countries for the benefit of their people, and is based on the mutual respect between the sovereign countries of the world, regardless of their size, economic or military position. As it seeks to strengthen global security and peace. Through diplomacy, countries can establish and foster cooperation with each other in all areas of development. It is important for diplomats, whether they are ambassadors or staff supporting them, to always keep in mind that they must represent their countries and their people with dignity and competence so that countries in which they know see that their actions reflect the traditions and values of their people. Given that opening and managing diplomatic missions is already costly, it is wise to limit smaller and poorer countries by their number of missions.

In order to establish effective relations between sender and future nations, efforts should be made to maximize the benefits of bilateral and multilateral cooperation between them. Diplomacy is the art of managing relations between nations to build peace and security as well as to foster mutual understanding between different countries of the world.

It is important to note that the size of a country represented by a diplomat, whether large or small, should not be an obstacle to the country’s efforts to enhance relations with large and advanced countries. There are smaller countries in the world that have, through visionary leadership, have managed to compete in development with larger ones and emerge as a force to be underestimated.

The success of political leadership in empowering its nation to progress and prosperity stops on seeing that leadership and the people of that country, wise political leadership should be able to motivate its people to hold on to principles that will help the country succeed.

As I said, the example of the small countries that rank today among developed and industrial countries are Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan which are economic and industrial giants thanks to honest and corruption free leadership. Therefore, it is a diplomat’s duty to set such positive, wonderful examples and pass them on to his nation so his country can lead the same. Singapore was once a member of the Malaya union, which consists of the states of Malaya, Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore. Under Lee Quan Yu’s leadership in 1965, Singapore broke away from the Malaysian Union and managed to make Singapore one of the most advanced countries in Asia, thanks to its honest, visionary political leadership and dedicated and disciplined officials. Singapore’s first prime minister has focused on education and fighting corruption, uncontrollably, for more than two decades, once his people realised that the type of leadership he provided was the best he could aspire to.

Therefore, it is a diplomat’s duty to provide this important and confidential information to his authorities, who can emulate and apply these examples to make a difference in their own way.

Looking at what he has mentioned so far, we can conclude that for a country to develop and prosper, three things are needed:

1. Honest and visionary political leadership.

2. A people excited about political leadership motive.

3. Determined to achieve developmental objectives.

Diplomacy is an important factor in ensuring a global peaceful environment and peaceful coexistence. We must recognize that every member of the United Nations, big and small, has their importance to promoting peace and respect for the sovereignty of all nations. For instance, Senegal is bigger than The Gambia, but when it comes to respecting sovereignty according to the UN Charter, they are both equal in terms of voting and decision making in the Security Council and General Assembly. However, it is the duty of Gambian and Senegalese diplomats to ensure the lasting existence of peace and friendly relations between the two countries, the common interest between the Gambia and Senegal in terms of experience, trade exchange etc is crucial. So it’s important for both countries to treat each other with respect for each other’s sovereignty and independence.

The primary goal of diplomacy is to promote and protect his country’s interests in all spheres, including protecting and enhancing the image of the country he represents and reputation. Diplomats must do everything they can to avoid getting involved in matters that contradicts future country rules and laws. As a diplomat must protect and defend the laws and regulations of his country, he should likewise apply the same to the state of the future country.

It is noted that with regard to the relations between The Gambia and Senegal, there have been instances of tension between the two countries over cross border trade since the early days of Gambia’s independence. However, both governments have always managed to undo the fuse of this tension before it spirals out of control. Both governments, through diplomatic channels, have never been involved in a military dispute when it comes to handling such cases. In the period prior to the failed coup of 1981, there were some areas of misunderstandings arising from the smuggling of smuggled goods between the Gambia and Senegal, but always through diplomacy, the governments of the Gambia and the Senegal have been able to properly deal with these trade disputes between them.

In 1981, at the request of the late President Sir Dauda Kiraba Jawara, former Senegalese President Abdo Goff sent forces to suppress military rebellion led by Kokwi Samba Sanyang in The Gambia. In the wake of the failed coup, the two leaders reached an agreement to form a confederate alliance that includes the Gambia and Senegal, and President Abdo Goff has been appointed President of the political entity that has been created.

Under the agreement, all Gambian Confederate ministers have become obedient to their Senegalese counterparts. Even President Jawara himself has become an invisible president of a state under President Abdu Jov’s reign. Dakar became the confederate capital and the headquarters of the national associations in Senegal and the Gambia. There has been a seemingly unequal sharing of power between President Abdu Gof and President Gawarra despite understanding that the presidency of the union should be rotated equally between the presidents of the two countries. Since such a presidential coup did not occur, there has been unseen tension in the Confederate order. Apparently, since President Abdo Gov probably didn’t support the rotating regime on presidency, he suddenly decided to withdraw from the union, following the withdrawal of all Senegalese elements from the Confederate Army. Here, diplomacy has failed to maintain the current situation. As a result, the entire confederate system collapsed.

Before the failed Kokoye Sanyang coup, there was an entity between Gambia and Senegal referred to as the Senegalese-Gambian Trust, coordinating the bilateral relationships in all spheres, political, economic, cultural etc between the two countries. Other than this order was overturned or even revoked after the union of Singambia was established. But the former Senegal-Gambia General Secretariat has returned to existence today. So it seems like such a political tool could be a defensible middle solution between the two countries.

And we realize that political, economic, financial and technical cooperation is still thriving between the two countries. Though I see some aspects of this cooperation didn’t go far at this time to satisfy a section of the Gambians which includes energy cooperation agreement, given the massive and frequent power outages in certain parts of the Gambia, especially in the West Coast Region. We as citizens look forward to a dynamic diplomacy that can put an end to such hardship in the not distant future. Of course there should be other areas of bilateral cooperation between the Gambia and Senegal to be reconsidered through diplomatic channels.

Translation of the Article: Basidia Drammeh.

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