January 26, 2017, The Gambia’s new president Adama Barrow has returned to the capital Banjul on Thursday, days after long-standing ruler Yahya Jammeh, who initially disputed the election results, was forced into exile.
Barrow’s return ended days of anxious waiting in the tiny West African country that was thrown into chaos when Jammeh refused to step down after losing the December vote.
Barrow took the oath of office at his country’s mission in Dakar a week ago and a multinational African force then entered The Gambia to ensure his safe return home and Jammeh’s departure.
Gambians said they were looking forward to their freedom after two decades of Jammeh’s iron-fisted rule in the former British colony, as they welcomed Barrow at the airport.
Barrow will be staying at his own home until further notice while State House, Jammeh’s former seat of power, is assessed for potential risks.
His first job is to deal with an internal crisis after it emerged his choice of vice president, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, may be too old, constitutionally, for the role.
Residents in the capital said Barrow’s arrival marks the beginning of the healing process after divisions created by Jammeh’s government.
Jammeh, a former military officer, finally stepped down on Saturday and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea under diplomatic pressure and after troops from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, crossed into The Gambia.
Jammeh’s government gained a reputation for the torture and killing of perceived opponents and many Gambians are furious that he will not face trial at home for those abuses.