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EU envoy complies with Gambia's expulsion order

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(BANJUL) - The EU representative in the Gambia has left the country under an expulsion order which drew criticism from opposition politicians and left Brussels "astonished", an airport source said Tuesday.

A member of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority told AFP he saw the envoy Agnes Guillaud at Banjul International Airport on Monday night.

"Madam Guillaud boarded (Brussels Airlines) on Monday night for Belgium. She passed through the VIP entrance to go to the flight," the source said.

Guillaud, the charge d'affaires of the European Union delegation in the capital Banjul, was on Friday given 72 hours to leave the country, according to a government statement read out on state television.

It gave no reason for the decision but said the notice period included Friday, indicating that the deadline was the end of Sunday.

An EU foreign policy spokesman in Brussels said on Saturday the bloc was "astonished" by the ruling and would seek an explanation, adding that the EU had "full confidence" in Guillaud's work.

Guillaud, a French citizen, has been in Gambia since 2011, but announced at a reception she hosted in Banjul recently that the end of her mission was approaching.

The EU is one of the main economic partners of the west African country, with subsidies of 65 million euros ($72 million) from 2008 to 2013.

Gambia's opposition leader Ousainou Darboe described the expulsion as "one of the most ill-considered decisions by the government of the Gambia".

The smallest country in mainland Africa and a former British colony, Gambia has been ruled with an iron fist by Yahya Jammeh since 1994.

The regime is frequently criticised for human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings, torture and the muzzling of journalists.


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