Friday 28 April 2017

Thousands attend inauguration ceremony for Gambia's president

Mr Barrow's election victory has been popular nationally and internationally (AP)
Mr Barrow's election victory has been popular nationally and internationally (AP)

Thousands have attended the inauguration ceremony of Gambia's new president as the West African nation celebrates wider freedoms after a tense political stand-off with its former leader.

Several heads of state went to the ceremony for President Adama Barrow.

He was sworn into office last month at Gambia's embassy in neighbouring Senegal as former leader Yahya Jammeh refused to cede power.

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

Hundreds of thousands of Gambians welcomed Mr Barrow's return to Gambia days later.

The new president, who has just turned 52 and was born the year that Gambia gained independence, has pledged to reverse many of the actions Mr Jammeh took during more than two decades of power.

He has committed to stay in the International Criminal Court and rejoin the Commonwealth. He also has vowed to free political prisoners.

The international community has quickly warmed to Mr Barrow's approach, with the European Union recently announcing an 80 million dollar (£64 million) package of support after breaking off assistance amid tensions with Mr Jammeh.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Mr Barrow on Tuesday, saying: "We are here to help."

Gambians at Independence Stadium also cheered independent electoral commission chairman Alieu Momarr Njai, who had to flee to Senegal during the political crisis after standing by the election results.

Senegal's president Macky Sall was among the honorary guests at the ceremony protected by troops from the West African bloc, Ecowas.

The regional force has been securing the country during the transition, which has remained peaceful.

Mr Sall said Gambia and Senegal must strengthen economic and other relations. Many Senegalese live in Gambia.

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

AP

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