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