New Gambian President Returns Home

Adama Barrow arrives in Banjul, Gambia, on Jan. 26.Adama Barrow arrives in Banjul, Gambia, on Jan. 26.

Jubilant Gambians have welcomed home President Adama Barrow, who was elected almost two months ago but forced to flee to Senegal when his predecessor refused to step aside.

Dressed in flowing white robes and a cap, Barrow stepped off the plane on Thursday, with heavily-armed troops from Senegal and Nigeria standing by as he flew in from neighboring Senegal, where he had taken shelter on January 15, Aljazeera reported.

Barrow was welcomed by military officials and senior members of his coalition government.

His return marks Gambia’s first democratic transfer of power and capped days of waiting in the tiny former British colony after longtime leader Yahya Jammeh refused to leave after losing a December 1 vote.

Barrow took the oath of office at his country’s embassy in Dakar a week ago and a multinational African force then entered Gambia to ensure his safe return home and Jammeh’s departure.

Around 4,000 West African troops remain in Gambia charged with ensuring safety, as it is believed rogue pro-Jammeh elements remain in the security forces that were once under his personal control.

“President Adama Barrow has asked us to remain for two or three weeks to see if there are arms caches or mercenaries hiding out,” said Marcel Alain de Souza, the head of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States commission.

Jammeh finally left the country on Saturday and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea under threat of regional military intervention.

Barrow has told Jammeh he will have all the rights legally ensured to an ex-president, which under Gambian law include immunity from prosecution, barring a vote by two-thirds of the national assembly.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints