News / Africa

Gambia Withdraws From 'Neo-Colonial' Commonwealth

FILE - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh during a press conference following his reelection in Banjul, Gambia, Sept. 2006.
FILE - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh during a press conference following his reelection in Banjul, Gambia, Sept. 2006.
VOA News
Gambia's government has announced that the West African nation is withdrawing from the Commonwealth grouping of mostly former British colonies, saying it will not be a "member of any neo-colonial institution."

The statement, released on Wednesday, did not further specify why the government is making the move now to leave the 54-member organization.

Britain and the European Union have for years been critical of Gambia's human rights record and called on President Yahya Jammeh's government to make reforms.

Jammeh said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly last week that homosexuality is one of the biggest threats to human existence.

Sulayman Nyang, a Gambian native and senior professor at Howard University in Washington, told VOA that Western rejection of Gambia's human rights record and Jammeh's anti-gay stance may be part of the reasoning behind pulling out of the Commonwealth.

"So for that reason he is definitely at loggerheads with the prime minister of Great Britain, who has been very strong in his support of the gay groups. Jammeh goes back to the old African nationalist position -- we are not going to kowtow to the imperialists," explained Nyang.

Nyang said opposition groups in Gambia see a parallel between the president and other dictators in Africa.

Gambia, a Commonwealth member since 1965, is not the first African nation to leave the group. Zimbabwe withdrew in 2003, saying it threatened the country's independence and sovereignty.

The Commonwealth's charter calls on its member states to commit to free and democratic societies and to promote "peace and prosperity to improve the lives" of their people.

Earlier this year, Jammeh accused the E.U. of trying to destabilize Gambia after the bloc demanded the government initiate a list of rights reforms, including greater press freedoms and the banning of the death penalty.

Britain said in a report this year that Gambia "consistently disregards its international human rights obligations."

Jammeh has also accused Britain of supporting his political opponents, claiming they received funding from Britain ahead of elections in 2011.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs