By Momodou Jarju
The communications officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr Saikou Ceesay, has told Foroyaa the persons who are entitled to diplomatic passports in The Gambia.
Speaking in an exclusive interview at his office yesterday, he said the minister of Foreign Affairs outlined the following people to be eligible to acquire diplomatic passport: The President and his family, cabinet ministers and their spouses, permanent secretaries, director generals or managing directors of parastatal, foreign affairs ministry staff from permanent secretary to second secretary, staff of Gambia embassies with their families, and Gambians in international organisations occupying positions which qualify them for diplomatic status.
Apart from the abovementioned, Mr. Ceesay said the President of the Republic of The Gambia can decide to give diplomatic passport to any Gambian.
Commenting on the procedural channels a person has to take in acquiring a diplomatic passport, Mr. Ceesay said the individual has to write and apply to the ministry of foreign affairs who will make background checks and vet the applicant.
He said thereafter, the ministry would write to the office of the president on eligibility or otherwise of the applicant.
“The ministry of foreign affairs would write and advise the presidency on whether the applicant is qualified to possess the diplomatic passport or not,” he said.
Speaking further, Mr. Ceesay said even if a person wants to renew a diplomatic passport, he or she would have to write and apply and submit the expired diplomatic passport he or she has.
“We will do our vetting at the ministry, then advise the presidency as to whether the renewal is necessary or not,” he explained.
Regarding the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou, Mr Ceesay revealed that he did not apply for diplomatic passport through their ministry.
He said Minister Tambadou sent a letter to the Office of the President (OP) and the letter was approved. Thereafter, he said OP sent the letter to the ministry.
Mr. Ceesay said that is the only thing they know and cannot make further comments.
The diplomatic passport scandal surfaced in late August 2019 and since then Gambians are outraged about the matter.
Minister Tambadou’s application for diplomatic passport caused heated reaction on social media in particular.
In the leaked letter of the minister to the president, Tambadou applied for diplomatic passports for his mother, step-mother and two sisters.
This reporter visited the ministry of justice for comment by Minister Tambadou, but he was not in.