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EU resumes aid to Gambia's new government

The EU has resumed aid to Gambia as a new government pledges to carry out reforms and respect of human rights. The EU had cut off aid to the country under former strongman leader Jammeh.

The European Union pledged on Thursday to provide Gambia's new democratically elected government 75 million euros ($80 million), two years after cutting aid due to human rights abuses by former President Yahya Jammeh.

Adama Barrow (pictured), the new president, has vowed to reform security services, respect human rights and improve the foreign relations of the tiny West African after defeating Jammeh in December elections. After ruling for nearly 23 years, Jammeh refused to step down and went into exile in January after coming under international pressure and West African troops entered the country.

Jammeh has been accused of torture, killings and other human rights abuses, leading to poor relations with the EU and the expulsion of the bloc's charge d'affaires in 2015.

EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica, said in the capital, Banjul, on Thursday that the aid package to one of the world's poorest countries would be used to build the capacity of the state, increase food security and boost jobs.

"The visit is a clear signal of the EU's readiness to provide immediate financial and technical support to the democratic process in The Gambia," Mimica told reporters. He added the EU was preparing a 150 million euro medium-term assistance package.

A country of only 2 million people, Gambia's weak economy and years of political repression have made it one of the leading source countries of migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa.

Also on Thursday, Gambia committed to reversing its decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, Mimica said. 

Separately, a group of West African nations announced they would extend for three months a troop presence in Gambia as Barrow attempts to clean up the army and intelligence services, parts of which became a personal tool for Jammeh to carry out repression.

cw/sms (AFP, Reuters)

 

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