News / Africa

Gambia Withdraws from Commonwealth

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh stands outside the Sipopo Conference Center ahead of the opening session of the 17th African Union Summit, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 2011. (file photo)Gambian President Yahya Jammeh stands outside the Sipopo Conference Center ahead of the opening session of the 17th African Union Summit, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 2011. (file photo)
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh stands outside the Sipopo Conference Center ahead of the opening session of the 17th African Union Summit, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 2011. (file photo)
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh stands outside the Sipopo Conference Center ahead of the opening session of the 17th African Union Summit, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, June 2011. (file photo)
James Butty
President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has unilaterally taken his country out of the Commonwealth, becoming the first African leader to do so since President Robert Mugabe took Zimbabwe out in 2003. 

A statement reportedly issued late Wednesday said the “government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism”.

Gambian-born Sulayman Nyang, senior professor and former chair of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. said some western governments’ rejection of Jammeh’s anti-gay rhetoric and dismal human rights record might be two reasons behind his decision.

“If he [Jammeh] made this statement, there are two underlying reasons behind the decision. One, in my opinion is the fact that when President Jammeh went to the UN, he came out categorically against the gay movement. So for that reason, he is definitely at loggerheads with the Prime Minister of Great Britain who has been very strong in support of gay groups,” he said.

Some western governments, Britain in particular, has threatened to withhold aid because of Jammeh’s anti-gay stance.

Nyang said the Gambian leader has adopted the old African nationalist position not to kowtow to imperialists.

Addressing parliament last year, Jammeh some western governments of trying to instill gay culture in the Gambia.

“If you are going to give us aid money for men and men or for women and women to marry, please leave it. We don’t need your aid money because as far as I am the President of the Gambia, you will never see that happen in this country,” the Gambian leader said.

Nyang said Jammeh’s notorious human rights record could also another reason for taking his country out of the Commonwealth.

“When all the facts come to light, you are going to see people looking at Jammeh at two levels. Those who are fighting for human rights will tell the story of Jammeh and his dictatorship. So, what I am emphasizing once again is that this decision of Jammeh is also occasioned not only by his state the UN against gay groups, but also because of the fact that he is very much aware of the fact that those who opposed to him are going to connect the dots, and some of those dots will lead him to [to former Liberian President] Charles Taylor and all the dictators in Africa,” he said.

He said even African nationalists such as Ghana’s founding president Kwame Nkrumah never broke away from the Commonwealth.
Butty interview with Nyang
Butty interview with Nyangi
|| 0:00:00

“The only time Kwame Nkrumah only had problem was when [former British] Prime Minister [Harold] Wilson gave that famous, unacceptable statement to Africans at the time. And there were some Africans who were beginning to have the idea that if Wilson is not willing to suppress the government of Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia, then why should we be dancing to the British music?” Nyang said.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: John Lloyd Suwaneh from: Senegal
October 05, 2013 3:51 PM
Let's face it, the king kong called jammeh has once failed to provide support to his country, all in the ame of drawing away from colonialism. As a gambian, i am deeply ashamed of how he governs the country and I am ashamed of how hes trying to cover his evil tracks all in the name of loving his country. he's a pig, a donkey and most importantly, he looks like a black buddha. Get a life president Jammeh, no one cares about whether youre in commonwealth or not.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 03, 2013 2:32 PM
Repression and anti human rights, bad. But when has democracy changed its meaning to return to colonialism? The way western democracies want to force change to African, Asian and Arabian ways of life has become something to raise questions about. Is it for good? Whose good? With this revolt, there may be others following. Aid does not mean Britain or any country for that matter should control another country. Fundamental Human Rights we were told regarded right to food, clothing and shelter.

When democratization added other fringes to make up the lapse as becoming norms, it becomes a distortion. It is because of human right excesses that the globe has wormed and is warming beyond human endurance; in like manner, excessive social rights without bridle will lead to the earth looking for escape. Why not allow societies to remain in their tradition while the West goes haywire: if it become attractive, others will copy, but if it fails them, others will thank their God for staying afar off. Meddlesome-ness is not democratic. The West and Britain in particular should stop meddling in other countries' affairs in the name of aid, democracy or commonwealth. The era of slavery is past and will never return no matter how much one tries to return it through aid.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs