Gambia’s President Adama Barrow used his joint independence and inaugural speech to ignite hope and lay out his vision for the Gambia under his administration.
The new Gambian leaders who have taken over a nearly insolvent nation promised greater freedom, an improved economy and better education.
Barrow says the peanut exporting and tourist importing nation is confronted with many challenges after former President Yahya Jammeh threw the country into a stalemate.
During the political impasse, businesses were shot down, offices and schools were closed and foreign missions scaled down their staff.
But the Gambia is bouncing back with its development partners pumping millions into its economy to create jobs. Barrow now says he would work with the international community to help educate the population and bring a strong workforce.
“The law of the land instructs that basic education shall be free, accessible and compulsory. All Gambian children must go to school. The Gambia under my presidency will respect the dictates of the Constitution and work with our development partners to make free education for all a reality,” he said.
Barrow has freed all political prisoners who were held under Jammeh. He vowed to follow the rule of law and freed 174 other prisoners as part of the independence celebrations.
Gambian authorities are probing missing person reports of at least 30 people who were arbitrarily arrested and detained by Jammeh’s regime.
“Gambia has changed forever. The people are fully conscious that they can put a government in office as well as remove it,” President Barrow said, noting many challenges ahead as the country emerges from rule under Jammeh, who imposed a climate of fear with an administration that detained and sometimes tortured and killed opponents.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Writing by Abdoulie John and Carley Petesch; Additional Reporting from AP; Editing by Sainey Marenah)