Finally, Gambia's Barrow 'officially' sworn-in as president

President Adama Barrow. (File: AFP)
President Adama Barrow. (File: AFP)

Bakau - Thousands of supporters gathered Saturday to finally celebrate the inauguration of Gambian President Adama Barrow, a month after he was sworn in across the border in neighbouring Senegal during a tense power struggle.

February 18 is also the anniversary of The Gambia's independence from Britain, but many are also calling the day the birth of a third republic following the ousting of Yahya Jammeh at the ballot box.

The festivities began on Saturday morning at Independence Stadium in Bakau, west of the capital, and were to be attended by several African heads of state as well as high-ranking diplomats.

The Gambia's first leader, Dawda Jawara, who governed from independence in 1965 until the 1994 coup mounted by Jammeh, has also been invited, organisers told AFP.

Crowds of hundreds began to gather as early as 03:00.

"I spent the night here at the stadium. This is to ensure that I can have a smooth passage inside", said Isatou Dibba, a Barrow supporter.

Security for celebrations 

US and British diplomats were finding it difficult to enter the stadium, an AFP correspondent reported, as people who had not been able to get inside massed against a heavy security presence.

Barrow will retake the oath of office he first made at the Gambian embassy in Senegal, whose territory almost entirely surrounds The Gambia and whose president, Macky Sall, is seen as Barrow's closest ally.

Later he will address the nation, and 52 pigeons, representing each year of independence from Britain, will be released.

The swearing-in ceremony on January 19 was held at a fraught time for the tiny west African nation, as Jammeh was refusing to step aside and acknowledge the result of the election Barrow won several weeks earlier.

Senegal spearheaded efforts to deploy west African troops in The Gambia after Jammeh's departure, in order to secure a country whose military forces were riven with factions still loyal to the ex-leader.

Around 500 Senegalese, Ghanaian and Nigerian soldiers remain in the country and were helping provide security for the celebrations on Saturday.

President Sall is a guest of honour at the ceremony, while Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who pushed for mediation efforts with Jammeh during his last days in office, is also expected.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was to attend, another key mediator during the nation's crisis, along with US Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in a sign of efforts to reset ties with the West.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Will you continue to use WhatsApp following the company announcing a change terms of service which would force users to share personal data?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, the terms of service do not bother me enough to switch
53% - 9237 votes
No, I will be switching over to a new service
43% - 7523 votes
I've never used WhatsApp
4% - 698 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
14.95
(-0.49)
ZAR/GBP
20.51
(-0.88)
ZAR/EUR
18.18
(-0.86)
ZAR/AUD
11.60
(-0.52)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(-0.54)
Gold
1868.30
(-0.07)
Silver
25.91
(+0.40)
Platinum
1121.52
(+1.69)
Brent Crude
55.55
(+0.23)
Palladium
2366.32
(+0.07)
All Share
64174.88
(+0.10)
Top 40
58969.37
(+0.19)
Financial 15
11940.13
(-0.48)
Industrial 25
85543.15
(-0.10)
Resource 10
63550.90
(+0.71)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo