Gambia declared Islamic republic by President Jammeh
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared the West African country an Islamic republic in a move he described as a break with the colonial past.
“In line with the country’s religious identity and values, I proclaim Gambia as an Islamic state,” Jammeh announced on state television.
“As Muslims are the majority in the country, the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy,” he added.
Jammeh further noted that citizens of other faiths would still be able to practice their religious rituals.
Gambia’s population of 1.8 million people is 95 percent Muslim. The smallest country in continental Africa gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965.
In October 2013, Jammeh pulled Gambia out of the Commonwealth, which is an intergovernmental organization of 53 previous colonies of the former British Empire, calling the bloc neo-colonial.
This comes as Gambia’s relations with the West have also soured over the past few years.
Last year, the European Union temporarily suspended its aid money to the West African nation over what it claimed as Banjul’s poor human rights record.