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Gambia’s president-elect takes oath at Senegal embassy

20th Jan 2017
Gambia’s president-elect takes oath at Senegal embassy

By Alpha Kamara


DAKAR, Senegal (AA): Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow was sworn in Thursday evening as president in a ceremony in Dakar, capital of neighboring Senegal as President Yahya Jammeh refuses to step down after losing the elections. West African leaders have given Jammeh ultimatum until midday Friday to hand over power and agree to step down or face military action from the regional bloc ECOWAS.

The inauguration ceremony took place at the Gambian embassy in Dakar amid tight security provided by Senegalese military personnel.

The nation’s president-elect, real estate developer Barrow took the oath of office as the third president of Gambia during the ceremony led by the Gambia Bar Association President, Sheriff Marie Tambadou.

He has become the third head of state after Sir Dawda Jawara ruled the country from 1970 until 1994 when President Yahya Jammeh took power in a military coup and has been leading the country for the past 22 years.

Dressed in all white looking happy, President Barrow called on the Gambian military to be loyal to him and urged for reconciliation in the country irregardless of who voted for him or not.

“We are determined to build a new Gambia and I am calling on all to join me in doing that for our country, the Gambia,” he added.

Surrounded by the security forces, he was greeted triumphantly by Gambian citizens, who came to chant slogans of support whilst others uttered their displeasure against outgoing President Jammeh’s resistance.

Host President Macky Sall was not present at the ceremony. But there were other diplomats including Senegal’s Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, ECOWAS Commission President Marcel Alain de Souza, as well as the US Ambassadors, France and Great Britain to Senegal, the President of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, the representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

Also present at the inauguration were former ministers of President Jammeh, such as former Foreign Affairs Minister Sidate Diop as well as the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Momar Alieu Njie.

No official response has been heard from President Jammeh in Banjul but Barrow’s spokesperson Mai Fatty said “Gambia will be in a ‘state of war’ if Jammeh refuses to go especially now that the President has been inaugurated. We don’t want that to happen.”

Asked about the legality of the ceremony, Secretary General of the Gambian Bar Association Aziz Bensuda told Dakar based radio Senegal that the ceremony taking place at the Gambian Embassy makes it legal by law.

Following the inauguration of Barrow in Senegal, thousands of Gambians have also taken to streets celebrating despite the declaration of the state of emergency on Tuesday.

In the meantime, troops from West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc entered Gambian soil, as confirmed by Nigerian defense minister.

“The ECOWAS have unanimously decided in their meeting to use the ECOWAS Standby Force for deployment in the Gambia with the Nigerian Military participation,” Mohamed Dan-Ali said in a statement late Thursday.

“Accordingly, in line with this the Nigerian military will deploy its assets as part of ECOWAS standby force to protect the people of the Gambia and maintain sub regional peace and security. Additionally, it will also protect and sustain the democratic norms in the sub-region. This will also forestall the breakdown of law and order in the Gambia and the sub-region in general,” he added.

ECOWAS troops met no resistance so far in starting an incursion of Gambia to enforce the outcome of last month’s election, an official of the body said earlier on Thursday.

An ECOWAS official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the press, told Anadolu Agency: “We have assurances from the local army that there will be no resistance whatsoever to the regional army. This has proven to be true so far, as land troops have already crossed the Senegalese border to enter Farafenni without any incident.”

Farafenni is a market town on Gambia’s northern border with Senegal, its much-larger neighbor which surrounds it on three sides.

“The local troops stationed in Farafenni simply waved a white flag to allow the ECOWAS troops to enter freely. A similar scenario is playing out elsewhere across the country, and we are happy the local military is cooperating, so far.”

*Saikou Kalleh from Banjul and Rafiu Ajakaye from Lagos contributed to this story.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: President elect Adama Barrow of United Democratic Party last week at Coco Ocean Hotel in Serekunda, Gambia on January 13, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Yusupha Sama/AA]

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