Sunday, 19 February 2017

Adama Barrow Sworn In On Home Soil As President

World leaders and supporters celebrate president's inauguration, marking end to tense standoff with predecessor Jammeh. 

Adama Barrow has been sworn in as president on Gambian soil, marking the end of a tense political standoff with the West African nation's former leader.

Dressed in flowing white robes, Barrow arrived at the Independence Stadium on Saturday to fanfare in Bakau, a town 20km from the capital Banjul, waving to supporters from his vehicle.

Several world leaders and thousands of Gambians witnessed Barrow's second swearing-in ceremony.

Barrow first took the oath in an official ceremony at The Gambia's embassy in neighbouring Senegal in January, as former leader Yahya Jammeh refused to cede power.

International pressure and the threat of regional military intervention led Jammeh to finally accept his December election defeat and fly into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Hundreds of thousands of Gambians welcomed Barrow's return to The Gambia on January 26.

Barrow, 52, was born the year that The Gambia gained independence.

He has promised to reverse many of Jammeh's policies which stretched over more than two decades of power.

Already, Barrow has committed to stay in the International Criminal Court (ICC), rejoin the Commonwealth, and free political prisoners.

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from the inauguration site, said Gambians were also celebrating the country's 52nd independence day, which coincided with the swearing-in ceremony.

"Under Jammeh's rule, the independence day was not a day of celebration. They had to celebrate July 22, instead. The day when Jammeh took power in 1994," he said.

"So, Gambians are taking this opportunity Adama Barrow's victory as well as their country."

The international community has warmed to Barrow's approach.

The European Union, which had cut support amid tensions with Jammeh, recently announced an $80m package of assistance.

Boris Johnson, British foreign secretary, visited Barrow on Tuesday, saying: "We are here to help."

Senegal's President Macky Sall was among the guests at the inauguration ceremony, which was protected by troops from the West African bloc, ECOWAS.

The regional force secured the country during the transition, which remained peaceful.

Sall said The Gambia and Senegal, a regional power that surrounds the tiny country, except for its coast, must strengthen economic and other relations. Many Senegalese live in The Gambia.

"We are the same people, and we remain the same people," he said.

Others attending included the leaders of Ghana, Liberia and Ivory Coast and the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Source: Al Jazeera and News Agencies
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