Turkey ready to help Gambia strengthen institutions

Ambassador Ismail Sefa Yuceer says Turkey ready to help Gambian democratic institutions after election defeat of strongman

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Turkey’s ambassador to Gambia has expressed his country’s readiness to assist the small African nation in strengthening its democratic institutions during its rocky political transition following the election defeat of strongman Yahya Jammeh.

Ismail Sefa Yuceer told Anadolu Agency that Turkey is a traditional Gambian ally that has been extending its help in areas including as education, health and security — and seeks to expand such cooperation.

After Gambia’s Dec. 1 elections, Jammeh — a former army officer who ruled for 22 years after coming to power in a 1994 coup — refused to step down claiming the electoral process was unfair, causing the country to slide into crisis.

Many governments — including that of Turkey — had issued statements demanding that Jammeh respect the will of the people.

Since President Adama Barrow took office last month, Yuceer has met with him twice to extend the good wishes of the people of Turkey.

“We have a very good relation with the Gambian people since the independence in 1965… We will do our best to support Gambia. As usual, our support will continue and it will be strengthened,” he underlined in an interview Monday.

“Capacity building and strengthening of democratic institutions of the Gambia are very important… In the past we have given scholarships to Gambian students and over 130 students have so far benefitted from these scholarships,” he said, also referring to other scholarships offered by private universities.

“We have also supported capacity building programs for government officials. About 15 officials from the ministry of foreign affairs have attended training in Turkey last year,” he added. “In the past, we had similar ones with officials from the justice ministry, health ministry and police department. We want to strengthen and enhance this kind of capacity building between us and the Gambia government.”

Yuceer highlighted past cooperation in other areas such as health and security, including the training offered to 7,500 Gambian military officers in the past.

The Turkish government has also undertaken projects in Gambia through its development aid agency, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

“TIKA is looking for other opportunities where it can help our Gambian brothers,” Yuceer stressed.

Last week, Barrow had promised to stamp out corruption in the west African state, telling Anadolu Agency that the country’s debt currently stood at around $1.08 billion — 115 percent of GDP.

Source: Turkey News Agency

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