President Adama Barrow arrived in The Gambia on Thursday afternoon to a mammoth crowd at the Banjul International Airport. This is the first time he steps on Gambian soil since he left to Mali on January 13.
The aircraft carrying Barrow and his team departed from Dakar where he was seen off by his host, Mack Sall. There was a cheering crowd at the airport when Barrow arrived with reports indicating that the ECOWAS force in the country did a fly-past for the new President.
The red carpet laid at the airport was lined with members of the opposition coalition and a host of foreign diplomats who were there to welcome Barrow back. He is officially the third President of the country.
Mediators from the regional bloc, ECOWAS took him along to Bamako for the France-Africa summit. Senegal agreed to an ECOWAS request to accommodate Barrow till his swearing-in ceremony on January 19.
He was eventually sworn in at the Gambian embassy in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, which according to diplomatic rules is a sovereign territory of the Gambia. The inability to return to Banjul was due to a heightened tension and the declaration of a state of emergency by ex-President Yahya Jammeh with barely 48 hours to the end of his tenure.
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Jammeh agreed to cede power in last-minute mediation efforts by Presidents of Guinea and Mauritania. He had previously insisted on staying on after his mandate expired on January 19. He got a legislative go-ahead and also imposed a three-month state of emergency.
As part of the deal brokered by Guinea and Mauritania, Jammeh flew out of The Gambia and is currently exiled in Equatorial Guinea. Had he failed to leave, ECOWAS forces were ready to force him out of power. He came to power after a bloodless coup in 1994 and has since then ruled the country. He lost elections on December 1, 2016. He accepted his loss before backtracking alleging malpractices.