Adama Barrow has taken the oath of office as Gambia’s new president.
He was sworn-in about 5pm Senegalese time at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal.
He succeeds Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the 1 December presidential election and has refused to vacate office when his term expired midnight yesterday.
“This is a victory of the Gambian nation. Our national flag will fly high among those of the most democratic nations of the world. #Gambia,” read a tweet after the ceremony.
Western ambassadors to Senegal, the UN envoy for West Africa and top officials from the regional bloc Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) attended the ceremony, while hundreds of Gambian expatriates gathered outside the compound.
“I, Adama Barrow, do swear that I’ll well and truly prosecute the functions of office the president of the Republic of The Gambia. That I will preserve and defend the constitution,” he said.
In his inauguration speech, he ordered all members of The Gambia’s armed forces to remain in their barracks.
“Those found illegally holding arms will be considered rebels,” he warned.
West African military forces, stationed at the border, say they are ready to enforce a transfer of power in The Gambia, a popular beach destination among European holidaymakers.
Nigeria said on Thursday that its “armed reconnaissance air force are over Gambia”, the AFP reports.
Meanwhile, ECOWAS troops halted their march into Gambia Thursday night to give former president Yahya Jammeh, one more last chance to leave Banjul. Jammeh has up till noon to leave, in the new deadline given by ECOWAS, the West African regional bloc.
If he fails to do so, the troops under Operation Restore Democracy, will continue their march into the capital. There was no resistance by Gambian troops at the border when the West African soldiers entered Thursday.
“We think that up until the last minute there is still a solution through dialogue,” said Marcel de Souza, head of the ECOWAS commission, explaining the decision to suspend the advance to reporters in Dakar late on Thursday.
ECOWAS will send a team led by Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde, and including the presidents of Liberia and Mauritania to Banjul on Friday, de Souza said.
If the mission succeeds, Jammeh will travel to Guinea before choosing a country of exile.
“It’s out of the question that he stays in place. … We propose that he leaves in an honourable manner and with respect,” said de Souza, who added that regional leaders were open to the possibility of an amnesty as part of a deal.
*With reports by BBC