A bilateral agreement for cooperation to combat drug trafficking has been inked. The agreement between the police force of the West African nation and the Russian Federal Drug Control Agency is geared towards fighting drug trafficking according to officials.
The signing ceremony held at the ongoing Moscow-Africa anti-drug dialogue conference, marking the 21st anniversary of the so – called 22nd July revolution.A revolution whose lifespan has witnessed the seizure of one million dollars worth of cocaine at a warehouse in Banjul. Critics doubt if bilateral cooperation with Russia would have any impact in combating drug trafficking in a country whose leader is accused of befriending drug kingpins like Bubo Na Tchuto of Guinea Bissau who is currently faces serious drug trafficking charges in the U.S.
The signing ceremony which was witnessed by Cabinet ministers and other government officials and representatives from Russia was agreed based on mutual understanding between the two countries. Speaking at the signing ceremony the Director of the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation, Viktor Ivanov, said “yes our agreement was based on mutual understanding and is aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two nations in the fight against illicit drug trafficking”.
Both parties affirmed that the cooperation agreement would be a firm legal basis in their fight against illicit drugs. “I am really impressed by the Gambia government for the steps they have taken to combat against drug trafficking, and I appreciate the work of the Gambia police force, for its contribution to drug seizures and combating drug trafficking” Russian envoy noted. On his part the Gambian minister for interior Mr. Ousman Sonko said fighting against drugs is a collective responsibility and therefore all efforts are needed to combat against the menace which is a worrisome. He buttressed that Gambia’s strong commitment to the fight against drug trafficking, adding that drug trafficking has negative impacts on the countries of origin, the transiting countries and the destinations, and has destroyed many youths in those countries. Drug trafficking leads to terrorism, he further stated.Sonko also said they are looking forward to the benefits of the signed bilateral agreement through mutually beneficial cooperation, and he commended Russia for taking the right path. It is expensive to fight against drug trafficking as it requires adequate and sophisticated logistics and capacity building, among others, Sonko added.
“African (countries) are the most affected, yet still we are not the cause and we are feeling it more,” he said, adding that they are looking forward to positively collaborate with Russia with extension to the level of the United Nations Security Council to make Africa’s voice heard, Sonko noted.
As the Gambia gradually faces alienation from its donor partners like the EU the regime in Banjul has been displacing desperate moves to partner with countries that don’t put too much emphasis on good governance and protecting fundamental freedoms of citizens. Countries like Russia that do not flood their partners in Africa with too much conditionalities are becoming the welcomes house for countries with brutal dictators like the Gambia. To what extend will such a bilateral agreement help in clamping down on drug trafficking in the tiny West African country is a wait and see situation.