Bar­row re­turns to Gam­bia as pres­i­dent

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

BANJUL, Gam­bia: Gam­bia’s Pres­i­dent Adama Bar­row fi­nally re­turned home yes­ter­day, so­lid­i­fy­ing his po­si­tion as the coun­try’s first new com­man­der in chief in two decades af­ter a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis sent the pre­vi­ous ruler into ex­ile.

Coali­tion spokesman Hal­ifa Sal­lah said a cer­e­mony would take place at a later date.

Gam­bians ea­gerly awaited Bar­row, who has promised to re­verse many of the au­thor­i­tar­ian poli­cies of for­mer leader Yahya Jam­meh, who was ac­cused of im­pris­on­ing, tor­tur­ing and killing his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

Bar­row de­feated Jam­meh in last month’s elec­tions, but the vet­eran leader did not want to cede power.

Bar­row was sworn into of­fice on Jan­uary 19 at the Gam­bian Em­bassy in neigh­bour­ing Sene­gal be­cause of se­cu­rity threats as Jam­meh clung to power.

Jam­meh fi­nally left Gam­bia last week­end, bow­ing to in­ter­na­tional pres­sure that in­cluded a re­gional mil­i­tary force, end­ing a rule of more than 22 years. West African troops were poised to oust Jam­meh if diplo­matic talks failed.

There are cur­rently 2500 of the Ecowas troops still in Gam­bia – in the cap­i­tal, Banjul, at key cross­ing points be­tween Gam­bia and Sene­gal and at the port and air­port, said Swe­den’s UN Am­bas­sador Olof Skoog, the cur­rent UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil pres­i­dent.

Gam­bia’s new pres­i­dent has asked the troops to stay for six months to pro­vide se­cu­rity, said Mo­hamed Ibn Cham­bas, spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral and head of the UN Of­fice for West Africa and the Sa­hel.

“Many fac­tors will be taken into ac­count in de­ter­min­ing the length of a mis­sion,” Cham­bas said yes­ter­day in Sene­gal, where Bar­row has been stay­ing while await­ing his re­turn.

Gam­bia, with a pop­u­la­tion of nearly 1.9 mil­lion peo­ple, has be­come a shin­ing ex­am­ple in West Africa, a re­gion striv­ing to es­tab­lish sta­ble demo­cratic changes of power.

The world watched as Gam­bians showed they wanted change, sup­port­ing a coali­tion of op­po­si­tion par­ties whose aim was to oust Jam­meh. His sup­port­ers wept as he boarded a plane for ex­ile in Equa­to­rial Guinea, tak­ing lux­ury cars and other riches amassed dur­ing his pres­i­dency and ac­com­pa­nied by fam­ily and guards.

When Jam­meh left, the streets in Banjul ex­ploded in cel­e­bra­tion. – AP

PIC­TURE: AP

Adama Bar­row, left, when he was sworn in as pres­i­dent of Gam­bia at Gam­bia’s em­bassy in Dakar, Sene­gal.

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