Expelled Gambian Diplomat in the U.S. arrives in The Gambia

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Deputy Head of Mission, Mustapha Sosseh

Diplomatic sources in both Washington DC and Banjul confirmed to The Alkamba Times (TAT) that expelled Gambian diplomats finally left the shores of the United States on Monday and arrived on Tuesday in Banjul after U.S. authorities blacklisted them for alleged visa fraud and domestic child abuse allegations.

Those reportedly affected by the Washington decision include the Deputy Head of Mission, Mustapha Sosseh, Finance Attaché Alagie Babou Joof, and First Secretary Pa Sako Darboe.

Following reports of their expulsion, TAT contacted embassy officials and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Banjul, but they declined to comment on the matter.

“I refer you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the First Secretary for Information and Cultural Affairs told TAT last week after news of the expulsion emerged.

However, the senior diplomat who confirmed the expulsions said they “acted outside the diplomatic rules of engagement.”

According to foreign affairs analysts, The U.S. decision signals Banjul that the U.S. government does not condone malpractices by diplomats.
The Gambia and U.S. have enjoyed cordial relations since Independence, but many believe recent developments may strain longstanding ties.

Reacting to the Expulsion, Gambian foreign based Lawyer Famara Singateh said: “The recent expulsion of three Gambian diplomats by the United States on allegations of visa fraud sparked profound concerns and raised critical questions about the integrity of our diplomatic service. This incident casts a disquieting light on the disconcerting practice of appointing unsuitable political allies to diplomatic missions to reward their loyalty to the president.”

He said diplomacy’s essence resides in individuals with the requisite skills, qualifications, and unblemished character to represent their country diligently.

“However, the misuse of diplomatic positions for political gain gravely undermines the reputation and professionalism of our diplomatic service. Before the expulsion of our diplomats, it is expected that the United States would have pursued due process, including thorough investigation, diplomatic engagement, and presentation of evidence to initiate an internal investigation while expressing concerns and issuing necessary sanctions. Disturbingly, the Gambian authorities have displayed minimal response to these alleged violations, failing to issue a public statement.”

Meanwhile, A former diplomat and Gambia’s foreign minister, Sidi Sanneh, based in Washington DC, told Alkamba Times the diplomats’ actions contravene the host country’s laws.

“To enroll the kid in a Maryland school, the diplomat must have declared himself the official guardian of the child. But from the State Department’s statement, he misrepresented the facts of his relationship with the kid and perjured himself, which is a state offense. He also broke Federal Immigration law by harboring a child whose immigration status does not allow him to be enrolled in school by declaring himself the child’s legal guardian. He may have broken other State of M.D. and Federal laws provisions. The U.S. and other Western democracies place a premium on strict adherence to the letter of the law without exception, be you a Joe Blow or a diplomat. If the Gambian diplomat was an American, he could face jail time, a hefty fine, or both. As a diplomat, expulsion is the maximum penalty. I hope this message is loud and clear enough for our diplomats in duty stations to observe the laws of their respective host countries. They owe it, especially to The Gambia, Our Homeland.”

Meanwhile, Gambian Government Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh promised that gov’t would investigate the matter to ascertain what went wrong but sort of saying if they will be prosecuted.

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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