February 18th 2017 will remain a historic and symbolic day in the history of the Gambia, Africa’s smallest country on its mainland. The day provides Gambians the unique opportunity of celebrating their country’s 52nd independence anniversary from Great Britain as well as the inauguration of the third president.
President Adama Barrow came to prominence last year after winning nomination for a coalition of opposition parties. Barrow did the unthinkable: won an incumbent who used everything, including extra-judicial killings to entrench himself in power. The defeated president also accepted the results, which also baffled many people. But it would take only a week for Yahya Jammeh to take back his words. He threw the country into six weeks of political impasse that also plunged the country into a civil war. After two attempts to convince power-hungry Jammeh, leaders of the Economic Community of West Africa flew President Barrow to Mali and ultimately to Senegal.
Instead of taking oath in the Gambia, Barrow did it at the Gambian Embassy in Senegal. ECOWAS leaders responded to President Barrow’s call for support by deploying forces to oust Yahya Jammeh from power who called for ceasefire. With the help of Guinea and Mauritanian President – Apha Conde and Abdul Aziz – Jammeh gave up power. He fled into exile leaving behind a country he claimed to have owned just two years back.
President Barrow has since been working hard to put in place a proper functioning government. He has an arduous task of cleaning up Jammeh’s mess.
Under the auspices of Chief Justice Hassan Bubacarr Jallow at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, President Barrow swore to execute the functions of presidency “without fear, favour or ill-will.”
The historic day, graced by more than a dozen heads of state and record crowd, has brought back memories of the Jawara era independence celebrations. It is not just an independence celebration because Gambians it happens at a time have broken shackles of the Jammeh dictatorship.