President Yahya Jammeh has announced The Gambia will be withdrawing its membership of being part of the Commonwealth, just weeks before Prince Charles attends the head of governments meeting in Sri Lanka.
The decision to leave the Commonwealth, which The Queen is head of, is something to “very much regret” the UK Foreign Office has said, adding “decisions on Commonwealth membership are a matter for each member government.”
While newspapers in the West African nation have criticised the decision describing it as a “disaster”.
“What we have… is a disaster. The Commonwealth is very important for The Gambia,” explained Ebrima Sankareh of The Gambia Echo.
President Jammeh becomes the first leader to pull out of the Commonwealth since President Robert Mugabe chose to withdraw Zimbabwe in 2003.
In a statement the Gambian government described the now 53-member group, which includes Australia and Canada, as a “neo-colonial institution”.
Tensions between the Gambian leader and the UK have been building in recent years, and earlier this year a Foreign Office report criticised the country for their human rights.
President Jammeh recently provoked widespread criticism after saying homosexuality was one of the “biggest threats to human existence”.
Next month, The Queen, will miss her first heads of government meeting since not attending in 1971.
Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall will attend the meeting which is due to take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Buckingham Palace confirmed the decision had been made that the 87-year-old monarch would be making fewer oversea trips because of her and The Duke of Edinburgh’s age.