President-elect Adama Barrow has traveled with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to Mali to engage West African leaders on the crisis in The Gambia, and discuss peace and security in the region.
It is Mr. Barrow’s first foreign engagement outside the Gambia after he won the country’s December 1 elections that President Yahya Jammeh is now challenging in the Supreme Court.
Barrow will be attending the Africa-France Summit convened by French President Francois Hollande in the Malian capital Bamako, aimed at strengthening cooperation between France and African countries in peace and security, and economic development.
First-time voters swung the youth vote in favor of Mr. Barrow because of his campaign promise to restore the country’s economy and strengthen foreign relations.
Many Gambian youths have died using the ‘backway’ route journeying through the Sahara and crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe due to President Jammeh’s bad governance, human rights abuse and clouded economic policies.
Mr. Buhari and other West African leaders were in Banjul on Friday in a last-ditch diplomatic attempt for defeated President Yahya Jammeh to step down.
Jammeh has until next week to hand over power peacefully to Barrow, a businessman, and political newcomer whose victory shocked observers.
Hollande last month said the outcome of the Gambia’s presidential polls were “indisputable” and President Yahya Jammeh stepping down is “non-negotiable.”
President Jammeh has not left the Gambia for more than a year and missed out on various UN, AU and ECOWAS meetings. The African Union said Friday he would not be recognized as the Gambia’s president after next week.
Barrow’s attendance of the Africa-France summit and flying with the president of an African powerhouse is symbolic of his legitimacy and international backing.
(Reporting and Writing by Sainey MK Marenah; Contribution and Editing by Sam Phatey)