Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow was sworn in on Thursday at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, leaving him Yahya Jammeh still refusing to leave power despite the sustained threat of international military intervention.
Mr. Barrow, dressed in white, was sworn in on the Koran shortly before 5 pm GMT in front of the President of the Gambian Bar Association Sheriff Tambadou, in the presence of numerous leaders of international and regional organizations as well as his two Wives, dressed in the same manner.
“It is a day that no Gambian will ever forget,” he said, calling for national unity and especially the armed forces to rally to him.
“I order the Chief of Staff and senior officers to show me their loyalty as Commander-in-Chief,” he said.
Adama Barrow thanked the countries and institutions involved in resolving the crisis in The Gambia, which came out of the dispute over its victory in the presidential election on 1 December by Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in 1994.
He cited Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Senegalese President Macky Sall as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the United Nations.
Mr Barrow’s entourage, who had been welcomed since 15 January in Senegal while awaiting his appointment, was originally planning a ceremony in a stadium in Banjul, the capital of the Gambia.
An idea abandoned against the opposition of Jammeh, which also declared Tuesday a state of emergency, validated for 90 days by the National Assembly that it controls.
The ceremony ended shortly before a Security Council vote that unanimously supported ECOWAS initiatives on a draft resolution submitted by Senegal.
Nigerian reconnaissance flights
Troops from several ECOWAS countries – including Senegal, the Gambia’s only land-based neighbor, and Nigeria, a regional heavyweight – were ready to intervene from Senegal, a Senegalese military source told AFP on Thursday.
The Nigerian air force was on Thursday afternoon of reconnaissance flights over Banjul, said the Nigerian Air Force, saying it was ready to impose the will of ECOWAS.
Ghana, for its part, gave Thursday its agreement to deploy, if necessary, 205 soldiers in The Gambia.
Despite international pressure and abandoned over the days by its vice-president and several of its ministers and the vice-president, Yahya Jammeh, it persists to remain in place until the justice has ruled on its deposited electoral remedies since December.
In Banjul, few people ventured into the streets where, according to witnesses, patrolled many soldiers, without their allegiance to either side appearing clearly.
Late Wednesday evening, the head of the Gambian army, General Ousman Badjie, told Western nationals that he would not order his men to resist in the event of intervention by African troops.
“This is a political dispute,” he said, adding, “I will not involve my soldiers in a stupid fight.”
The risk of unrest has prompted many Gambians, foreign residents and tourists to leave the country. According to UN agencies, some 25,000 people, half of them children, have left since the beginning of the crisis.
On Wednesday, Mauritanian President Mohamed Abdel Aziz made a surprise surge in the file with a “proposal” out of crisis, details of which have not been revealed, but which, according to a Mauritanian diplomat, has matured since December.
He met “one-on-one” in Banjul Yahya Jammeh and then Ousainou Darboe, the historic leader of the opposition to Jammeh. Then he won Dakar, where he met with Senegalese president and Adama Barrow, before returning to his country, which does not belong to the ECOWAS.
The Mauritanian president was encouraged by these meetings and continued on Thursday his exchanges, according to an official source.
But according to sources close to the file contacted by AFP, during these talks Yahya Jammeh demanded the cancellation of the inauguration ceremony of Mr. Barrow in Dakar and the lifting of any threat of external intervention in The Gambia, two Conditions de facto rejected.
In Conakry, a source close to the family of the Gambian First Lady Zineb, a Guinean father, also told AFP of the presence in Banjul of an emissary of Guinean President Alpha Condé, former minister Tibou Camara , Brother-in-law of Mrs. Jammeh.