By Own Correspondent – The Vice President and Minister of Women Affairs, Isatou Njie-Saidy, last week headed a high-powered Gambian delegation to the second Senegalo-Gambian joint consultative meeting held in Dakar on Tuesday.
The Vice President and delegation was met on arrival by the Senegalese Prime Minister Sulayman Ndene Ndiaye, ministers and top officials of the Senegalese government.
The climax of the opening of business, according to news on GRTS, was the formal addresses by both the Prime Minister and the Gambian Vice-President. Both countries presented high calibers of officials as the issues on the agenda tabled directly relate to their various portfolios.
A two-day forum was conducted in an atmosphere of maturity, commitment, dedication, openness and, above all, frankness as each of the issues was discussed and scrutinized extensively harping on political, security and social matters, the establishment of the Senegalo-Gambian permanent secretariat, economic and commercial matters, and the construction of a bridge at Yelli Tenda–Bamba Tenda over the River Gambia, among others.
After marathon sessions, the two delegations agreed on the appointment of the Executive Secretary and the Deputy Executive Secretary for the Permanent Secretariat to be filled on a rotational basis. However, the Gambian side proposed amendments to reduce the five-year tenure of office of the Executive Secretary and the Deputy Executive Secretary to three years renewable once. The Gambia’s proposal on this has to be channelled through diplomatic means and its draft amendments for consideration.
On security and defence, the two sides expressed their desire to strengthen cooperation in matters of security and effectively combat cross-border crimes and its related issues.
On immigration matters, the Senegalese government expressed deep appreciation to the Government of The Gambia for the measures it has adopted to facilitate the stay of Senegalese nationals in the country and furthermore their exemption from paying residential permit in The Gambia.
On trade and economic affairs, the two delegations expressed satisfaction over the expert meeting held in October last year to assess the implementation of protocol agreement signed in April 2008.
On the construction of the River Gambia bridge project, the Gambian side reaffirmed that the bridge project is a national programme which shall be owned and managed by The Gambia. However, since the bridge would serve as corridor for integration, the Gambian side wants the Senegalese Government to support the seeking for funding from the regional financing envelope of ECOWAS, EU, ADB and others.
Agriculture, air transport, the environment, customs and river transport were all dilated on. Closing the meeting, Senegalese Prime Minister Sulayman Ndene Ndiaye highlighted the uniqueness of the excellent relations between the two countries, and expressed Senegal’s commitments to implement the agreements.
For her part, the Gambian Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy, reiterated the characteristics that bind the two countries.