New Gambian president returns home 0

The Gambia’s newly-elected President Adama Barrow has returned to the nation after his predecessor finally agreed to cede power under international pressure and went into exile. On Thursday, Barrow arrived in Banjul from Senegal, where he had sought refuge in mid-January after his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, refused to concede defeat in the presidential election and stand down.

Barrow won in the national election late last year, but Jammah’s clinging to power threw The Gambia’s political scene into turmoil. Upon arrival, the new head of state was welcomed by military officials and senior members of his coalition government.

Barrow’s supporters had gathered along the capital’s streets to welcome the president home. “We also hope that if he (Barrow) comes as a president, there will be some changes,” said a supporter. Barrow was inaugurated as president in neighboring Senegal on January 19.

Over two decades of Jammeh’s rule came to an end last week after he fled to Equatorial Guinea as thousands of soldiers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were deployed to the country to force him out of office.

A United Nations official announced earlier in the day that Barrow had asked the 7,000-strong ECOWAS military contingent to remain in the country for six months. Barrow requested the forces sent by ECOWAS to remain in Gambia for six months, said Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations’ most senior official in West Africa. In the meantime, the ECOWAS contingent in Gambia is carrying out a sweep operation to neutralize possible security threats against the new head of state.