Gambia President Sworn In; Adama Barrow Gets Second Five-Year Term After 53% Election Win

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Gambian President Adama Barrow on Wednesday pledged to work to jumpstart the economy and ensure broad-based development gains as he was sworn in for a second five-year term in office.

Barrow, 56, came to power in 2017 by unseating his autocratic predecessor Yahya Jammeh at the polls. He comfortably won re-election last month with 53% of the first-round vote. 

During his first term, he improved relations with many foreign countries that had cooled under Jammeh’s 22-year tenure and worked to restore civil liberties that were repressed during that period.

He faced a challenge reviving the economy of mainland Africa’s smallest country as the coronavirus pandemic pushed the economy into recession in 2020, keeping away tourists from its white-sand beaches.

Growth is estimated to have bounced back to around 5% last year.

Various heads of state and high-level dignitaries joined thousands of Gambia citizens in the coastal town of Bakau, The Gambia, to witness the swearing-in of Adama Barrow for a second term.

Barrow won the December 4 presidential election with around 53 percent of the vote, with his nearest rival Ousainou Darboe garnering 28 percent.

Some of the leaders who attended the swearing-in ceremony include Ghana’s president and ECOWAS Chairman, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Togo President Faure Gnassingbé, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio, Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Guinea Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari among others.

Barrow won his first term in 2017 after springing a surprise against former long-time president Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the West African nation for 22 years.

Jammeh, who has been recommended for prosecution for murder, torture and rapes, fled the country after losing the vote.

After being declared the winner of the December 2021 election, President Barrow called on Gambians to unite in the interest of the country.

He reiterated a previous commitment to introduce a new constitution. He has previously said it would introduce presidential term limits but has not said whether that would prevent him from seeking additional terms. 

Debates about presidential term limits have flared in several of Gambia’s West African neighbours, including Ivory Coast and Guinea, whose presidents in 2020 used constitutional changes as reset buttons on their tenures in order to stay beyond the two-term limit.

Barrow had pledged as a candidate in 2016 to only serve three years if he was elected but later went back on that commitment.

By: Isaac Clottey

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