He said: "I'm delighted to be the first Foreign Secretary to visit Gambia this week and delighted to have a chance to meet the newly elected President Barrow and President Akufo-Addo of Ghana".

The move comes after new President Adama Barrow had promised to abandon the process started by his predecessor Yahya Jammeh a year ago to remove The Gambia from the Rome Statute.

But Jammeh pulled the country out of the Commonwealth, calling it a "neo-colonial institution" and announced his intention to drop English as an official language.

Last week, the European Union promised The Gambia an aid package of nearly £65m ($81m) - almost three years after freezing its assistance to the West African nation.

"As a new government that has committed itself to the promotion of human rights ... we reaffirm The Gambia's commitment to the principles enshrined in the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court", said the government's statement.

During the visit, Mr Johnson will highlight the strength of the Commonwealth as the United Kingdom seeks to build on its traditional alliances in the lead-up to the Brexit vote.

He then took refuge in neighbouring Senegal after Jammeh refused to accept the election result and sought for weeks to cling to power.

In The Gambia in addition to meeting with President Barrow he will visit the UK-funded Medical Research Council and speak to Chevening scholars and employees and employers in the tourism industry - a huge employer in the country.

The British minister also hailed the December elections in The Gambia and Ghana, saying they "highlight the continuing strengthening of democracy in West Africa".

Jammeh, who mockingly called the ICC the "International Caucasian Court", flew into exile last month under global pressure after losing to Barrow in the December election.


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