Banjul— The Gambia’s new government has asked the UN to halt the process of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) begun by the regime of former leader Yahya Jammeh.
The Hague-based court, set up in 2002, is often accused of bias against African nations, leading The Gambia, Burundi, SA and maybe Kenya to send notice last year they plan to withdraw from the Rome Statue.
"The Government of Gambia has notified Antonio Guterres in his capacity as depository of the Rome Statue of its decision to discontinue the withdrawal notice," said a statement issued by the government late Monday, referring to the UN secretary-general.
New Gambian President Adama Barrow had promised during his December election campaign to rejoin the ICC and the Commonwealth group of nations, reversing Jammeh’s more insular foreign policy.
Former Gambian information minister Sheriff Bojang referred to the ICC as "the International Caucasian Court", a personal blow against the tribunal’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer and former justice minister.
Currently nine out of the ICC’s 10 investigations concern African countries, the other being Georgia.
However experts point out that many of the current investigations — in the Central African Republic, Uganda, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo — were referred to the ICC by the governments of those states.
Separately, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who in the past sparked fury over comments about Africans, arrives in The Gambia on a charm offensive on Tuesday as its new government considered rejoining the Commonwealth.
Johnson is to meet President Adama Barrow and visit the British-funded Medical Research Council, his ministry said, resetting ties after years of tension with Jammeh.
Jammeh frequently railed against Britain’s colonial rule of the tiny nation, and Johnson will be the first British foreign minister to visit since independence in 1965.
Johnson has hailed the December elections that unseated Jammeh after 22 years in power in The Gambia, saying they "highlight the continuing strengthening of democracy in West Africa".
The visit will be his first to the continent as Britain’s top diplomat.
The talks with the president are expected to formalise statements by Barrow during campaigning last year that The Gambia would resume its place in the Commonwealth group of former British colonies.
Barrow worked as a security guard in Britain when he was younger and has made no secret of his wish to rekindle ties.