Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has been sworn-in despite former President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to leave.
Barrow won the country’s last month’s polls against Jammeh, who is disputing the results throwing the small country into a deepening a political crisis.
“This is a day no Gambian will ever forget in a lifetime,” Barrow said in a speech. “Our national flag will be flying high among the most democratic nations in the world.”
Former President Jammeh declared a state of emergency this week. He and his men are now considered rebels.
ECOWAS forces have crossed into Gambia to dislodge him at the orders of Mr. Barrow.
At least 26,000 people have fled Gambia for Senegal since the start of the crisis fearing unrest, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said on Wednesday, citing Senegalese government figures.
Gambia’s electoral chief Alieu Momar Njai, UN West Africa Envoy Mohammed Ibn Chambas, ECOWAS President Marcel de Souza and Senegal’s Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne attending the swearing-in.
Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 military coup, suffered a surprise defeat in elections in December, with Barrow winning 45% of the vote. He originally conceded but then announced his “total rejection of the election results.”
After Barrow’s inauguration, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson offered the new leader his congratulations and called on Jammeh to leave office.
“The elections … were free and fair, and an orderly expression of democratic choice by the Gambian people,” he said. “They represent a new chapter in the country’s history and an opportunity for change in the Gambia.”