A well celebrated Gambian is in town. No, it is not Yahya Jammeh—the soldier who was on a peace mission here and eventually returned to stage a bloodless coup and rule The Gambia with an iron fist for 22 unbroken years.
It is rather Adama Barrow, the recently elected Gambian leader who ascended to take state power with the help of ECOWAS, headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
President Barrow is here to thank President Sirleaf as Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, and through her, other colleagues who helped in averting a serious crisis that was looming in The Gambia.
The Gambian President arrived in the country yesterday on a two-day official visit as guest of the Liberian Government. President Sirleaf was on hand along with officials of government and members of the diplomatic and counselor corps to welcome the Gambian leader.
Gambians residing in Liberia also joined in welcoming their leader, singing to a smiling President who was obviously delighted by their presence as they waved their country’s flag.
Barrow was given a red carpet reception upon his arrival at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County on a plane decorated with the Gambian flag.
Soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), including its military band, were also on hand playing both nations’ national anthems before President Sirleaf led President Barrow to inspect the troops. He was thereafter escorted to the Monrovia City Hall, where he was presented with the Key to the City.
President Barrow also held a meeting yesterday with Gambian citizens residing in the country at a local resort.
Today, the Gambian President begins his activities with a meeting with Ambassadors of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the Boulevard Palace Hotel.
At 12 noon, President Barrow, a devout Muslim, will say prayers at the Gurley Street Mosque after which he will proceed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Sirleaf’s temporary office for a brief tête-a-tête with the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority.
They will emerge from their meeting and engage journalists for a joint press stakeout in the foyer of the Ministry.
This evening President Barrow will depart for Banjul, capital city of The Gambia.
Presidential elections were held in The Gambia on December 1, last year when surprisingly, opposition candidate Barrow defeated ‘President for Life’, incumbent Yahya Jammeh. The election marked the first change of presidency in The Gambia since former President Jammeh seized power in a military coup in 1994.
Before the results were announced on December 2, Jammeh graciously conceded defeat, but a week later, on December 9, he rejected the results and called for new elections, setting off a constitutional crisis.
It took extensive diplomatic efforts, led by President Sirleaf, Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, together with several other African leaders, and finally a threat of military intervention from ECOWAS, for Jammeh to finally leave The Gambia on January 21, 2017. He currently lives in exile in Guinea Bissau.