Thousands of Gambians on Thursday line up the streets and the airport to accord a tumultuous welcome to their newly elected President. President Adama Barrow, who won December 1st presidential election, had flown to Mali for the Franco-Africa Summit and then Senegal where he stayed for more than a week. Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to relinguish power had denied President Barrow the opportunity to take oath of office in the Gambia. Instead he was sworn at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal on January 19th. President Barrow’s appeal for help immediately followed the intervention of ECOWAS troops in the country. Defeated Jammeh called for ceasefire before he had agreed to leave for exile in Equatorial Guinea.
President Barrow’s presence in the neighbouring Senegal was justified by the Gambia’s fragile security and the discovery of poisonous chemicals at State House in Banjul. Amid heightened security, Barrow landed at the Banjul International Airport where he walked on the red carpet, stood and waved thousands of Gambians from all walks of life. His motorcade was escorted by columns of vehicles and supporters. Streets were filled up with excited Gambians who have been adjusting with their new found freedom. Twenty-two years of the Jammeh dictatorship has had a great toll on Gambians.
President Barrow was escorted to his Brufut home, which will host his presidential office until work at State House is complete.
Many elderly people who stormed the airport for the first time were full of joy. Most of them never dreamt of a Gambia without Yahya Jammeh, the former leader accused of ordering torture, disappearances without trace and killings of his opponents.
President Barrow is expected to name his cabinet soon. His government needs plenty of time to right the many wrongs of the Jammeh regime.