Sierra Leone president on maiden visit to Gambia - The East African

Sierra Leone president on maiden visit to Gambia

Wednesday February 20 2019

Julius Mada Bio

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio with his wife Fatima. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KEMO CHAM
By KEMO CHAM
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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio is in Gambia to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.

The three-day official tour that began on Tuesday is President Bio's first to Gambia since assuming office.

President Bio is accompanied by First Lady Fatima Bio, who has a Gambian heritage.

A statement from the presidency in Freetown said the tour was geared towards deepening bilateral relations and to honour an invitation extended by President Adama Barrow.

Electoral crisis

“This visit is symbolic as it is the maiden state visit to the Gambia for both President Bio and First Lady Fatima Bio since Bio's election as president,” the presidential statement said.

The Gambian leader in April 2017 visited Freetown as part of a thank you tour following the peaceful resolution of his country’s electoral crisis. Sierra Leone’s then President Ernest Bai Koroma was a leading player in the process.

Gambia and Sierra Leone share a long history of political ties, stemming from the colonial period when the same British governors presided over the affairs of both countries.

And as the smaller sister country, Gambia has relied on Sierra Leone for a lot of development assistance, especially education.

A press briefing

Before the mid-1990s, when Gambia first established its university, most Gambians sought degree level education in Sierra Leone. And today there were thousands of Gambians involved in mining in Sierra Leone.

At the Banjul International Airport, President and Madam Bio were received by President Barrow and Mrs Barrow.

The two leaders were expected t hold a press briefing after their meeting on Wednesday.

President Bio was also scheduled to meet with the members of the Sierra Leone community in Gambia.

President Bio is expected to return to Freetown on Friday.

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