President Adama Barrow was officially sworn in as The Gambia’s democratically elected leader during the country’s Independence Day celebrations on February 18. President Barrow’s inauguration ceremony was attended by thousands in the capital Banjul, who came to witness the first democratic transfer of power in the country after 52 years of independence from the colonial ruler the Great Britain in 1965.
President Barrow who returned to his country after a lengthy power struggle forced him to flee to Senegal where he was sworn in after the long time ruler Yahya Jammeh refused to step down after initially conceding defeat.
Various heads of states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and from the rest of the African Union (AU) attended the inauguration. With the inauguration President Barrow became the third leader of The Gambia, and the first democratically elected president in the country.
President Barrow’s predecessor Jammeh who ruled for 22 years came to power through a military a coup in 1994, and fled to exile in the Equatorial Guinea following pressure from the regional ECOWAS.
Thousands of Gambians thronged the stadium on Saturday to witness an event of a lifetime, an important day for the citizens, especially those who voted for Barrow.
Promise of a new dawn for Gambians
In his inauguration speech, President Barrow promised to reform the country’s institutions and give amnesty to 174 political prisoners held at Mille II prison, unlawfully jailed by his predecessor. Barrow also promised to reform the security services which many argued were remains loyal to Jammeh.
Speaking on the country’s international relations, President Barrow pledged to reverse many of Jammeh’s actions and committed that The Gambia will remain as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and would also rejoin the Commonwealth.
While the transfer of power has been peaceful, security remains a major concern in the country. According to ECOWAS, around 4,000 West African troops remain in the country to ensure safety and security, as it is believed rogue pro-Jammeh elements remain in the security forces.
The Gambia is one of the best tourist destinations in West Africa with beautiful beaches, but the citizens have not fully benefited from the revenue generated from tourism. There are allegations that Jammeh and his close associates looted the state coffers. The Gambian citizens remain hopeful of a swift economic turnaround, and that their civil liberties will be respected and protected under President Barrow’s administration.