Diplomats to be disciplined: premier

CAUGHT OUT::Envoys stationed in the Gambia failed to send any warning of a pending change in diplomatic ties and had no inkling of Yahya Jammeh’s statement

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Nov 20, 2013 - Page 1

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday said the government would conduct a review and discipline diplomatic personnel stationed in the Gambia after the West African state caught Taipei by surprise when it abruptly severed diplomatic ties.

Taiwan announced the termination of diplomatic relations with the Gambia on Monday, after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh issued a statement on Thursday last week saying that his country was ending diplomatic relations with Taipei.

Jiang said diplomats stationed in the country failed to send any warning of a pending change in ties.

“On that point alone, we will conduct a thorough review and mete out administrative disciplinary measures,” he said at a legislative hearing in response to lawmakers’ concerns over Jammeh’s abrupt announcement.

Jiang said diplomatic personnel on the front line were well aware of loan demands made by the Gambia, but had no inkling that Jammeh was about to cut ties.

“This isn’t simply a problem of bad judgement on the part of our diplomatic personnel or the ambassador,” he said.

Jiang said that for members of Taiwan’s mission in the country, including Ministry of Economic Affairs and National Security Bureau officials, and military, education and medical personnel, everything was business as usual, with nothing to indicate the pending break in relations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) officials said Taipei would shut down its embassy in the Gambia in about a month, in line with standard operating procedures.

Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director-General David Wang (王建業) said Ambassador to the Gambia Samuel Chen (陳士良) would return home as soon as possible, adding that this is standard practice.

Members of an agricultural technical mission would also leave the country within a month, Wang added.

MOFA spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said the ministry had also asked the Gambia to remove its embassy from Taiwan within a month based on the principle of equity.

Asked about loans made to the West African country, Wang said the Gambia still has US$10 million in outstanding loans, but he was confident the money would be repaid, as Banjul has a good credit rating and has always met its loan obligations in the past.

The series of measures was taken after the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan asked MOFA to reflect on the Gambia’s abrupt severance of diplomatic ties and conduct a full review to prevent similar incidents in the future.