Taiwan Tells Gambia “It’s Pay Back Time”

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Taiwanese authorities want the Gambia to “repay whatever loan” it had owed them.

This development comes barely a week after Gambian president unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with Taiwanese. President Yahya Jammeh said the decision was done in the best interest of the Gambia. He failed to elaborate, leaving Gambians with enough room to speculate. The breakoff has caught Taiwanese diplomatic corps off guard, and their efforts to mend fence were fruitless. Taiwanese lawmakers want to avoid a recurrence of the Gambia scenario elsewhere and therefore want proper investigation to be conducted.

The severance of diplomatic relations means all pending issues have to be resolved. It is against this background that Taiwanese officials want the Gambia to repay its borrowed loans. A Taiwanese Foreign Affair Ministry official told Taiwan News there should be no problem with repayment of loans owed to the Gambia. David Wang, who heads the Department of West Asian and African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), assured Taiwanese public of making follow up on the outstanding loans. The said loans were offered under contracts with commercial banks.

In the past, Taiwanese government has learnt bitter lessons from extending foreign aid to allied countries to promote development projects. These projects turned out to be total failures mainly due to poor management of resources. These countries still owe Taiwan millions of dollars in loans. But Mr. Wang said such diplomatic nightmares will not be repeated in the case of the Gambia whose contracts were made through commercial banks, which are not affected by the breakoff. Consequently, the Gambia is obligated to pay back Taiwan’s loans in full.

Taiwan has already contracted dismantling of its embassy in Banjul. Its Ambassador Samuel Chen is expected to depart the Gambia soon. Taiwan also shut down military exchanges and agricultural assistance projects in the Gambia.

Meanwhile, Gambian students on Taiwanese scholarships have until January 2014 to pack up.

At least 175 Gambian students are holding Taiwanese scholarships. The news has caused devastation among Gambian students in Taiwan.

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