UK
03/10/2013 05:16 BST | Updated 03/10/2013 15:19 BST

Gambia Ditches The Commonwealth Branding It A 'Neo-Colonial Institution'

Gambia is to withdraw from the Commonwealth, branding the 54-member grouping, which includes the UK and most of its former colonies, a "neo-colonial institution."

President Yahya Jammeh, who likes to be called "His Excellency Sheikh Professor Doctor President", sensationally became the first leader to pull out of the Commonwealth unilaterally since President Robert Mugabe chose to withdraw Zimbabwe in 2003.

Earlier this year, a Foreign Office report singled out Gambia for its appalling human rights record, citing cases of unlawful detentions and discrimination against minority groups.

Just last month, Jammeh ranked homosexuality alongside obsession with power and greed as "more deadly than all natural disasters put together."

Using his address to the United Nations General Assembly to attack gays and lesbians, Jammeh called homosexuality one of the three "biggest threats to human existence."

"Those who promote homosexuality want to put an end to human existence," Jammeh told the gathering of world leaders in New York.

"It is becoming an epidemic and we Muslims and Africans will fight to end this behavior."

"Homosexuality in all its forms and manifestations which, though very evil, antihuman as well as anti-Allah, is being promoted as a human right by some powers," concluded Jammeh.

The Gambian ruler has previously told gays and lesbians to leave the country or have their heads cut off. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the country.

Jammeh, who first took power in the tiny West African country after a 1994 coup, also drew international criticism for his claim he can cure AIDS with an herbal body rub and bananas.

Additionally, in 2009, Jammeh declared that someone had killed his aunt by casting a spell over her – swiftly announcing a national campaign against "witchcraft" designed to rid his country of evil.

Last night, in a statement, The Gambian government said it had "withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth".

It said it had "decided that The Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism".

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