By Nick Butler

Yahya Jammeh has lannounced Gambia's immediate withdrawal from the CommonwealthOctober 3 - A statement by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announcing his country's immediate withdrawal from the Commonwealth has resulted in confusion including in relation to its participation at Glasgow 2014. 

Jammeh announced the move in a statement on Gambian state television in which the Commonwealth, a group of countries that were mostly territories of the British Empire, was branded a "neo-colonial institution."

"The general public is hereby informed that the Government of the Gambia has left the Commonwealth of Nations with immediate effect," his statement said.

"[The] Government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any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."

No further explanation was given for the decision.

Yahya Jammeh has long been one of Africa's most contraversial rulers and appears to have been the instigator of Gambia's decision to withdraw from the CommonwealthYahya Jammeh has long been one of Africa's most controversial rulers and appears to have been the sole instigator of Gambia's decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth

However, as the Gambian Parliament appears not to have been consulted, the announcement appears a solo crusade which sheds revealing light on the autocratic complexion of the country's politics.

The British High Commissioner in Banjul nor the Commonwealth Secretary was warned either.

Article 10.3 of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Constitution states: "Countries must be full members of the Commonwealth, as accepted by the Commonwealth Secretariat."

But a CGF spokesman said that they would continue as normal until they were officially advised by the Commonwealth Secretariat that Gambia were no longer members. 

"The CGF is aware of reports that the President of the Gambia has declared his intention to withdraw his country from the Commonwealth of Nations, but as yet we have not received any official advice on the matter," he told insidethegames.

Gambia's Minister of Youth and Sports Sheriff Gomez holds the Queen's Baton when it visited Banjul in 2010 before the New Delhi Commonwealth GamesGambia's Minister of Youth and Sports Sheriff Gomez holds the Queen's Baton when it visited Banjul in 2010 before the New Delhi Commonwealth Games

"As a result, the CGF continues to work with key partners, including the Gambia National Olympic Committee, on preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

"So long as the Gambia is a member of the Commonwealth at the time of the Games, it will be eligible to compete in them."

Glasgow 2014 took a similar view to the CGF and repeated the assertion that "the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are open to all members of the Commonwealth".

"Until we are advised otherwise by the Commonwealth Games Federation, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games will have 71 participating nations and territories," they told insidethegames.

However, as well as limiting the likelihood of Gambia participating next year in Glasgow, it could also force a change in the route of the Queen's Baton Relay.

The Relay is set to visit Gambia on New Year's Eve as its first visit on African soil before departing for Sierra Leone on January 1.

President Jammeh first came to power in 1994 and over the subsequent two decades has been involved in a string of controversies.

He has repeatedly claimed of his ability to cure AIDS and other illnesses and is often pilloried for rights abuses and the repression of journalists.

Just last week he was reported as ranking homosexuality alongside obsession with power and greed as "more deadly than all natural disasters put together".

In 2012 he came under attack from Amnesty International and others for sending nine prisoners to the firing squad and promising many more would go the same way.

This year the European Union set out a 17-point checklist of demands for reforms, which included calls for Gambia to abolish the death penalty and to re-open newspapers and radio stations closed down by the authorities, all of which was angrily dismissed.

Matthew Pinsent reacting to Gambias withdrawal on social mediaMatthew Pinsent, the four time Olympic gold medal winning rower and former International Olympic Committee member, was among those disappointed with Gambia's withdrawal 

The Gambian Government also rejected a proposal by the Commonwealth last year to create commissions in Banjul to protect human rights, media rights and fight against corruption, and a British Foreign Ministry official told French news agency AFP that this was what led to Jammeh's announcement.

However, there appeared no warning and in July the UK Deputy High Commissioner George Sherriff even reported a "very useful and interesting meeting with the President of the Gambian Olympic Committee and his team to discuss Gambia's preparations for the Commonwealth Games."

"The Committee are very well prepared and I look forward to the Gambia participating and taking an active role in the Games", he said at the time.

"I discussed with the President and the committee the forthcoming Queens Baton Relay and the British High Commission looks forward to working closely together in the future."

The small West African state has competed in every Commonwealth Games since 1970, bar Edinburgh 1986, when there was an African-led boycott, and sent athletes to Delhi in 2010 to participate in athletics, boxing and wrestling.

They won their only ever medal, Sheikh Faye, a bronze in the men's high jump, on their Games debut, also in Edinburgh in 1970.