After 22 years of autocratic rule under former President Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia has a new president - Adama Barrow. President Barrow’s inauguration took place on January 18 at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, due to concerns about his safety in Gambia. After initially accepting his electoral defeat in early December, Mr. Jammeh suddenly changed course, refusing to step down. He then attempted to challenge the election results in court and when that failed, declared a state of emergency.
The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, immediately condemned the attempt by Jammeh to cling to power. Following weeks of high-level engagement by ECOWAS and other regional heads of state, the group underlined their commitment to Gambian democracy by organizing a multinational mission to enforce Gambia’s electoral results should Mr. Jammeh continue to refuse to hand over power. Following the stationing of these forces on the Gambian border and intense last minute mediation by regional leaders, Mr. Jammeh finally agreed to depart peacefully on January 21. This has paved the way for President Barrow to return to the Gambia.
The United States welcomes the on-going peaceful transition of power in The Gambia and congratulates President Barrow on his inauguration.
Mr. Jammeh took office in 1994 after a coup and imprisoned numerous journalists and political opponents during his tenure. President Barrow has vowed to release all political prisoners and to get to work on improving the Gambia's economy.
The United States applauds the commitment to democracy and the restraint shown by the Gambian people over the past weeks and appreciates the decision by Mr. Jammeh to depart peacefully.
The United States commends the Economic Community of West African States and other regional partners for their leadership in addressing the situation. The United States echoes President Barrow's call for Gambians to unite and work together as brothers and sisters for the future of The Gambia.
The United States is proud of our close ties to the people of The Gambia and looks forward to working closely with President Barrow and his team to achieve the aspirations of all Gambians.