West African troops from regional force (Economic Community of West African States) ECOWAS stood guard outside Gambia’s presidential palace on Monday in preparation for new President Adama Barrow’s return from neighbouring Senegal.
The regional military force entered the capital city of Banjul on Sunday and took control of the presidential palace, the symbolic seat of the ex-ruler Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year authoritarian regime.
Jammeh, who refused to accept defeat to opposition challenger Barrow in a December 1 election, left Banjul late on Saturday en route to Equatorial Guinea as the regional force was poised to remove him.
Senegalese army officials said the force, which also includes troops from Nigeria, Ghana and Mali, met no resistance as they advanced on Sunday.
“I am also giving thanks to the Senegalese government and their people and the ECOMOG (Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group) as well. I also pray and wish for more unity between the West African nations and the entire continent at large because these are all signs of unity. When your brother is in crisis, you intervene and give help. This is all unity,” said Banjul resident Paul Jagne.
“We can’t say that Jammeh did not work. His departure was God’s doing. God has now sent us Barrow and we are looking forward to great things for our country. All I ask for is for every Gambian to support the new president so that he can do his work well. I also ask the international community to give Barrow all the help he needs,” said another unidentified Banjul resident.
The regional military operation was first launched late on Thursday after Barrow was sworn in as president at Gambia’s embassy in Senegal, but it was halted hours later to give Jammeh one last chance to leave peacefully.
Jammeh’s departure followed two days of negotiations led by Guinea President Alpha Conde and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, prompting speculation over what, if any, terms were agreed upon to convince him to step down.