Gambia followed a formal policy of non alignment throughout most of former President Jawara’s tenure. It maintained close relations with the United Kingdom, Senegal, and other African countries.
The July 1994 coup strained the Gambia’s relationship with Western powers, particularly the United States, which until 2002 suspended most nonhumanitarian assistance in accordance with Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act.
After 1995 President Jammeh established diplomatic relations with several additional countries, including Libya (suspended in 2010), and Cuba. The People’s Republic of China cut ties with the Gambia in 1995 – after the latter established diplomatic links with Taiwan – and re-established them in 2016.
The Gambia plays an active role in international affairs, especially West African and Islamic affairs, although its representation abroad is limited. As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Gambia has played an active role in that organisation’s efforts to resolve the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and contributed troops to the community’s ceasefire monitoring group (ECOMOG) in 1990 and (ECOMIL) in 2003.
The Gambia has also sought to mediate disputes in nearby Guinea-Bissau and the neighbouring Casamance region of Senegal. The government of the Gambia believes Senegal was complicit in the March 2006 failed coup attempt.
This has put increasing strains on relations between the Gambia and its neighbour. The subsequent worsening of the human rights situation has placed increasing strains on US–Gambian relations.
The Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations on 3 October 2013, with the government stating it had “decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism”.
Under the new President, The Gambia has begun the process of returning to its status as a Commonwealth republic with the support of the British Government, formally presenting its application to re-join the Commonwealth of Nations to Secretary-General Patricia Scotland on 22 January 2018.
Military of Gambia
The Gambian Armed Forces consist of the Gambian National Army, Republican Guards comprising a well-trained and equipped Presidential Guards and the Special Forces, and the Navy, all under the authority of the Ministry of Defence (a ministerial portfolio held by Jammeh).
Prior to the 1994 coup, the Gambian Armed Forces received technical assistance and training from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Nigeria, and Turkey. With the withdrawal of most of this aid, the Army has received renewed assistance from Turkey, Pakistan and others.
A number of junior Gambian Army officers are regularly trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and sergeants from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment were observed training Gambian troops in Bakau in November 2010.
Members of the Gambian military participated in ECOMOG, the West African force deployed during the Liberian Civil War beginning in 1990. Gambian forces have subsequently participated in several other peacekeeping operations, including Bosnia, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, and East Timor.
The Gambia contributed 150 troops to Liberia in 2003 as part of the ECOMIL contingent. In 2004, the Gambia contributed a 196-man contingent to the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.
Responsibilities for internal security and law enforcement rest with the Gambian police under the Inspector General of Police and the Secretary of State for the Interior.
Alex Bellamy and Paul Williams classify the Gambia as a Tier 2 peacekeeping contributor and the NYU Center on International Cooperation describes the Gambia as a regional leader in peacekeeping.
Districts of Gambia
The Gambia is divided into eight local government areas, including the national capital, Banjul, which is classified as a city. The Divisions of the Gambia were created by the Independent Electoral Commission in accordance to Article 192 of the National Constitution.
The local government areas are further subdivided (2013) into 43 districts. Of these, Kanifing and Kombo Saint Mary (which shares Brikama as a capital with the Brikama Local Government Area) are effectively part of the Greater Banjul area.