Jubilant Gambians on Thursday welcomed home their new President Adama Barrow, who was elected almost two months ago but forced to flee to Senegal when his predecessor refused to step aside.
Dressed in flowing white robes and cap, Barrow stepped off the plane, with heavily-armed troops from Senegal and Nigeria standing by as he flew in from neighbouring Senegal, where he had taken shelter on January 15.
APANEWS reports that, Barrow’s plane, a 6W-TTC military flight which departed Dakar Senegal touched down at the Banjul International Airport at 17.04 as ECOMIG fighter jets circled overhead and Senegalese and Nigerian troops control the crowds.
He was received by his newly appointed vice-president Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang, other members of his election-winning coalition and foreign dignitaries who stood at the foot of the aircraft to welcome him.
He was returning for the first time since he took the oath of office in Dakar exactly a week ago as his country’s third president and five days after his predecessor Yahya Jammeh flew into exile after vacating the presidency, ending a protracted election dispute.
After a solemn rendition of the country’s national anthem, without further ceremony the 51-year-old was whisked away from the airport by a heavy security escort to his residence in the outskirts of Yundum where a boisterous crowd of supporters and well-wishers have been waiting for him for hours.
People selling Barrow merchandise lined the sidewalks along the main highway to clap and wave at their new leader’s convoy as it sped past to his private residence where he will be residing temporarily as the official seat of power in Banjul undergo security checks.
Barrow’s immediate security details are made up chiefly of ECOMIG soldiers despite his appointment of a Gambian Masaneh Kinteh as his security aide.
ECOMIG are in the country to help beef up security in the wake of the political crisis caused by Jammeh’s dramatic U-turn from conceding poll defeat to challenging the results.