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MOFA respects Control Yuan's report on The Gambia rift

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday expressed its respect over a Control Yuan report that said the ministry is partially responsible for the end of ties with The Gambia as it lacked alertness to detect signs before the African country announced its intention to sever ties with Taiwan last November.

Asked to comment on the probe results released late Tuesday, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) yesterday told The China Post that the ministry fully respects the Control Yuan members' report.

The ministry has beefed up its alert system after Taiwan and The Gambia ended ties at the end of 2013 and has conducted reviews to prevent similar incidents from happening again, she added.

Kao made the comments in response to a Control Yuan report compiled by its members Chao Ron-yaw (趙榮耀) and Hung Teh-shuan (洪德旋) that pointed out the mistakes MOFA made that ultimately led to the end of official diplomatic ties with The Gambia.

The report said The Gambia President Yahya Jammeh's decision to end diplomatic ties with the R.O.C. last November was mostly because of his strong personality.

However, MOFA and Taiwan's embassy in Banjul have both shown little alertness as they were unable to recognize signs of Jammeh's impending decision to sever ties with Taiwan beforehand.

For instance, Jammeh used to meet with Taiwan's ex-ambassador to The Gambia, Samuel Chen (陳士良), once every month or two alone.

 However, Chen had failed to meet the African leader from May to October in 2013, which should have been seen as a warning sign that there were problems between the two allies.

The report recommended that MOFA learn from the experience and make regular reviews of its ties with diplomatic allies in the future.

Ending Ties Over Money

According to the report, the Taiwan government's rejection of Jammeh's request for financial aid was the main reason the African nation to sever ties with Taiwan.

The report said Jammeh in January 2013 asked for US$10 million in financial assistance outside of existing cooperative programs, saying only that the money would be used for national security without elaborating further..

Taiwan did not give Jammeh a positive response for several months.

  In May, Jammeh met with Chen to make the request again but Chen said he needed to consult with his superiors. Chen later invited the Gambian leader for a state visit to Taiwan in June that year but the proposal was rejected by Jammeh, the report said.

Jammeh later kept a distance from Chen until his office issued a statement on Nov. 15, 2013 saying that his country was ending diplomatic relations with Taiwan, citing "national strategic interest" as the reason. The Taiwan government after three days announced the official severing of ties with The Gambia.

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