Gambia’s new president confirms the West African country will reverse its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, a European Union official said Thursday. The country’s previous ruler began the formal process of withdrawal last year.
The EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica, announced the news on Twitter after meeting new President Adama Barrow. “Excellent news,” Mimica said.
Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh had formally notified the U.N. secretary-general the tiny nation would withdraw from the ICC, which presses charges against alleged perpetrators of some of the world’s worst atrocities, including genocide. Actual withdrawal comes a year after notification.
Gambia was one of three countries, including Burundi and South Africa, to formally begin their withdrawal last year, accusing the court of unfairly targeting the continent. The frustration is shared by many African countries. Last month, leaders from the 55-nation African Union adopted a non-binding strategy calling for a collective withdrawal from the ICC, saying the court has focused too narrowly on prosecuting African leaders.
Jammeh, accused of leading a government that tortured and killed opponents during his more than 22 years in power, flew into exile last month after international pressure to accept his December election loss. Jammeh, who had mockingly called the ICC the “International Caucasian Court,” went to Equatorial Guinea, which is not an ICC member state.
Also Thursday, Gambia said the mandate for a West African regional force that is helping to secure the country under the new government has been extended by three months. That could be renewed further, the statement said.
Mimica, the EU official, also announced an $80 million package of support for Gambia as the international community warms to Barrow’s vows to reverse many of Jammeh’s policies, including freeing political prisoners.