Minister Darboe made these remarks during a meeting with over a hundred Gambian residents in Guangzhou city, as a tradition of his official visits to abroad, to engage Gambians abroad as their designated Minister.
Darboe said he is happy that the local authorities of Guangdong have awarded Gambian residents in the region for ‘law abiding’, and added ‘Gambians are not known for crimes and fraud’. He pleaded with his compatriots to continue to be law abiding in their country of abode.
According to Darboe, The Gambian Ambassador to China has got statistics of a record number of non-Gambians who are in possession of Gambian national documents such as passports, who perpetrates crimes to taint the name of the country. He said even the Chinese authorities are aware that 98% of such culprits are non-Gambians who obtained the country`s national documents through wrong ways.
As shown by members of The Gambian community in Guangzhou, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss issues affecting them such as travel difficulties and the right to vote in national elections with the Foreign Minister.
A Gambian of Dippa Kunda origin, Musa Bayo asked Minister Darboe whether there are plans for them to be able to vote in future general elections. In his response, Darboe explained the background of the ruling Coalition member parties demands for electoral reforms during former President Jammeh`s ruling, which includes for Gambians abroad to be able to vote.
“We will do electoral reforms for Gambians in the diaspora to be able to vote. There is a law in place for that, the process on how it needs to be done, is what we are going to put in place.
“Diaspora Gambians are actively contributing to the economy, so to decide who should be the President is their right. Next elections Gambians in the diaspora will vote.”
On travel difficulties, Darboe said Gambia`s geographical location is the most viable travel hub to South Africa, Europe, North America, East Africa and China. He said they have plans to upgrade the Banjul International Airport to serve that purpose and possibly have direct flights to China.
“Our principal task is to open Gambia to the rest of the world.
“We are working to get direct flights between the Gambia and other destinations.
“We are working to get a direct flight between The Gambia and France, because there are many Gambians in France.”
Darboe concluded that “it is very inconvenient to transit in Brussels or Dakar.” Invited by the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Darboe had a week-long official visit to China from July 31 to August 6.