The Gambia intends to rejoin the Commonwealth, UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is in the West African country, has confirmed.
Boris Johnson’s visit, the first to The Gambia by a British foreign secretary, comes weeks after long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh went into exile after losing elections.
Yahya Jammeh took The Gambia out of the Commonwealth in 2013, calling it a neo-colonial institution.
Newly-elected President Adama Barrow had promised a return to the 52-nation grouping.
Before leaving for Banjul, Boris Johnson said: “We will ensure this happens in the coming months.
“The strength of our partnerships show that Global Britain is growing in influence and activity around the world.”
The Commonwealth secretariat said it welcomed the news, saying the formal process of rejoining would have to be agreed by the 52 heads of government.
A spokesman said: “When The Gambia left the Commonwealth in 2013, the heads of government… noted its decision with regret. We looked forward to the country’s eventual return because it was part of our very close knit family and our doors have always remained open.”
Last week, the EU promised The Gambia an aid package of nearly $81 million – almost three years after freezing its assistance to the West African nation.
Adama Barrow, who was sworn in last month, has also said The Gambia will reverse its move to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In a statement on February 13, the government said it had written to UN chief Antonio Guterres to inform him of its decision “to discontinue the withdrawal notice”.
In 2016, a former Gambian information minister had referred to the court as “an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans”.
The move is a blow to Africa’s anti-ICC lobby – which includes South Africa, Namibia and Burundi.
At the annual African Union summit held this month, leaders called for a mass walk-out from the ICC, but faced opposition from other countries, including Nigeria, Senegal and The Gambia.
The Foreign Office said as well as holding talks with Adama Barrow, Boris Johnson would visit the UK-funded Medical Research Council and speak to Chevening scholars and workers and employers in the tourism industry.
The Gambia is a popular holiday destination for Britons. Thousands had to be evacuated last month because of security concerns when Yahya Jammeh was refusing to hand over power after losing December’s elections.
Adama Barrow, whose swearing-in was held in neighboring Senegal, is to be inaugurated as president in a ceremony at the national stadium on February 18.
Several heads of state are expected to attend. Local dignitaries may include former VP Alhagie Saihou Sabally, who local media said had returned to the Gambia on February 13 after 22 years in exile.
Yahya Jammeh, who took power in coup in 1994, is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea after West African leaders deployed troops to The Gambia to ensure he left power.
Boris Johnson will go on to Ghana for talks with President Nana Akufo-Addo on February 15.
Celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in London with your neighbors by hosting a Big Jubilee Lunch.
Big Jubilee Lunch in London
The Big Lunch is an annual nationwide event which encourages people across the UK to enjoy lunch with their neighbors.
This year The Big Lunch falls on the same weekend as The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which is a four-day Bank Holiday weekend. So dust off the bunting and Union Jack flags from the Royal Wedding and enjoy a lunch fit for The Queen!
All you have to do is gather together your neighbors and choose what kind of an event you want – from a small gathering raising money for charity to a full-blown street party with music and a barbeque.
How to Organize a Big Jubilee Lunch
Every year since it began in 2009, The Big Lunch has been enjoyed by more than a million people, and this year’s special Big Jubilee Lunch is likely to attract even more participants.
If you want to get involved and set up your own local event, follow the “10 Steps to Organizing a Big Lunch Guide” on the Big Lunch website.
You can also request a Big Jubilee Lunch pack, containing advice as well as posters, leaflets and recipes.
The Central Weekend 2 – 5 June 2012
The Central Weekend to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee takes place from Saturday 2 June to Tuesday 5 June 2012, with celebratory activities throughout the UK and across the Commonwealth
If you are considering visiting central London to join in with the celebrations, you may find it useful to visit the Transport for London website
Alternatively, you may wish to consider watching events on one of the many BBC Big Screens around the UK.
For information about the Official Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Programme click here.
Here is our run-down of events over the Diamond Jubilee weekend, including approximate timings:
Saturday 2 June, 2012
The Queen will attend the Epsom Derby.
Sunday 3 June, 2012
The Big Jubilee Lunch: Building on the already popular Big Lunch initiative, people will be encouraged to share lunch with neighbours and friends as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. This may take the form of a traditional street party or a picnic lunch in small or larger groups. This event is being organised by the Big Lunch. Find out more.
The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant: This event will take place on the Thames and consist of up to 1,000 boats assembled from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will travel in the Royal Barge which will form the centrepiece of the flotilla. Find out more
Approximate timings are as follows:
14:30BST – The Queen embarks the Royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, near Albert Bridge
16:15BST – The Royal Barge comes alongside HMS President (Royal Naval Reserve Unit), near Tower Bridge
Monday 4 June, 2012
BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace: There will be a televised Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace with tickets being available to UK residents by public ballot. The musical programme for the concert is still being planned and is expected to feature British and Commonwealth musicians. Details on how to apply for the concert will be available in due course. This event is being organised by the BBC. Find out more
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons: A network of 2,012 Beacons will be lit by communities and individuals throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Commonwealth. As in 2002, The Queen will light the National Beacon. Find out more
Approximate timings are as follows:
19:30BST – Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace begins
After 22:30BST – The Queen lights the National Beacon outside Buckingham Palace
Tuesday 5 June, 2012
On Tuesday 5 June, the Diamond Jubilee weekend will culminate with a day of celebrations in central London, including a service at St Paul’s Cathedral followed by two receptions, a lunch at Westminster Hall, a Carriage Procession to Buckingham Palace and finally a Balcony appearance, Flypast, and Feu de Joie. Find out more.
10:15BST – The Queen leaves Buckingham Palace by car
10:30-11.30BST – Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s
12.30BST – The Queen travels by car from Mansion House to the Palace of Westminster
14:20BST – Carriage Procession from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace commences
Approximately 15:25BST – Royal Family appear on the Balcony at Buckingham Palace
Top 10 Art Exhibitions in London
Don’t miss out on the best London exhibitions! Catch one of these great London exhibitions as chosen by our editorial team.
Damien Hirst at Tate Modern
A shark suspended in formaldehyde, a bisected cow and calf… Damien Hirst is well-known for his imaginative and sometimes shocking works. This April, Tate Modern unveils the first substantial survey of Damien Hirst’s work ever held in the UK, featuring more than 70 iconic pieces. Until 9 Sep
Picasso and Modern British Art at Tate Britain
The influence of Picasso on British art and artists has rarely been recognized – until now, thanks to Tate Britain’s new exhibition. Picasso and Modern British Art explore the Spanish artist’s reputation in Britain, and looks at how Picasso’s work affected British modernism and inspired British artists. Until 15 Jul
British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age
In this Olympic year the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrates the best of British art and design since London last held the Olympic Games, in 1948. The exhibition brings together more than 300 objects from the fields of fashion, ceramics, graphics, photography, sculpture, product design, architecture, furniture and fine art. Until 12 Aug
One of Japan’s best-known living artists, Yayoi Kusama’s work spans more than six decades. Kusama is known for her immersive artworks and at this Tate Modern exhibition you can wander through a series of rooms covered in hallucinatory polka dots, mirrors and more. Until 5 Jun
Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude
Turner’s daring painting technique dazzled audiences at the beginning of the 19th century and influenced future generations of artists. This National Gallery exhibition examines how Turner was inspired by Claude’s portrayal of light and landscape, and features pictures by Turner and Claude hung side-by-side. Until 5 Jun
Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames at the National Maritime Museum
As well as being The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, 2012 sees the 75th birthday of the National Maritime Museum. Royal River celebrates them both by exploring the relationship between British monarchs and the River Thames throughout history. Royal River is curated by one of Britain’s leading historians, David Starkey. Until 9 Sep
Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist at the Queen’s Gallery
Don’t miss the largest-ever exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Da Vinci produced amazingly accurate anatomical drawings. His research included working in hospitals and medicals schools, where he dissected human and animal material. Until 7 Oct
Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum
This Design Museum offers a unique retrospective of famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin’s work and a preview of his next collection. Using items from Christian Louboutin’s personal archive the exhibition showcases his designs, methods and inspirations over the past 20 years. Until 9 Jul
The Queen: Art and Image at the National Portrait Gallery
To celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the National Portrait Gallery is bringing together 60 images from The Queen’s 60-year reign. See how The Queen has been portrayed through painting, photography and press images by renowned artists and photographers. Until 21 Oct
Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition
Don’t miss the highly popular summer exhibition at the Royal Academy, now in its 244th year. Displaying some of the best of contemporary art, the exhibition features more than 1,200 works by both new and distinguished artists, many of which are available to purchase. 4 Jun-12 Aug