Gambia’s New President, Adama Barrow, Pledges Sweeping Economic Reform

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow vowed on Saturday to revive the country’s faltering economy with sweeping reforms as he sought to draw a line under the erratic 22-year rule of his predecessor.

Barrow was sworn into office a month ago during a brief exile in Senegal as Yahya Jammeh refused to accept his defeat in a December election. Jammeh fled into exile days later as troops from West African countries prepared to enter the capital and force him to go.

Saturday’s inauguration event at the national stadium was ceremonial, timed to coincide with the date that Gambia won independence from colonial master Britain in 1965.

Tens of thousands of Gambians gathered at the stadium to watch military marches and brass bands performing before a giant banner reading #GambiaHasDecided, the slogan of a campaign to persuade Jammeh to accept defeat.

“Few people would have thought that I’d be standing here today,” Barrow said, wearing a traditional flowing white robe with gold trim.

“For 22 years, the Gambian people yearned to live in a country where our diverse tribes will be bridged by tolerance and our determination to work together for the common good,” he said. “One Gambia, one nation, one people.”

Barrow, 51, now faces the task of lifting the tiny nation — which straddles the banks of a West African river — out of grinding poverty, in part a consequence of Jammeh’s volatile rule during which thousands of dissenters were jailed and scores of businesses expropriated. Read more on this.