A 52-year old Gambian leader, Adama Barrow, who won strongman Yahya Jammeh at the small nation’s recent presidential polls has been inaugurated on home soil after his swearing-in at the Gambian embassy in Senegal on January 19.
Barrow told thousands of cheering supporters at the country’s Independence Staduim who have showed up for both his inauguration and independence celebration that the country has “changed forever”.
“Gambia has changed forever… No government will ever be able to impose itself against the will of the Gambian people,” Barrow said.
Barrow promised Gambians several reforms including the reviewing of the draconian media laws in the country as well as economic reforms.
He also promised an establishment of a human rights commission.
Gambians went to polls on December 1 and the former property developer Barrow who had no prior experience in holding public office won with a light margin.
However, Jammeh conceded defeat but later took a U-turn on his decision claiming that the electoral process was tainted with “unacceptable irregularities”.
Several attempts led by Nigeria’s Muhammed Buhari and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia backed by the regional bloc have failed to prevail over Jammeh to step down.
Concerned for his security, Barrow left the country and was inaugurated at Gambian embassy in neighboring Senegal on January 19 as President of Gambia.
A last minute attempt by Alpha Conde of Guinea and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania eventually persuaded Jammeh to step down and flee to Equatorial Guinea.
However, regional leaders who have felt tested by Jammeh’s defiance have already deployed 7000 troops comprising naval forces, air force and ground troops who are still in the country.
The leader of Senegal, Macky Sall, who has played a veritable role in solving the country’s political impasse, has said that Gambia “victory was a victory of democracy in Africa”.
Sall arrived in the country on Friday.
Gambia is surrounded by Senegal in all three sides and the neighours played a leading role with Nigeria and Ghana in solving the political impasse.
“Gambia and Senegal are not just relations. We are much more than that. We are one family… We share one value, common history, common destiny…,” Sall said.
The ceremony was attended by several regional leaders including Liberia’s president Sirleaf and Mauritania’s Ould Aziz.