Gambia’s President Adama Barrow is to embark on a tour of ECOWAS countries that helped him to assume office and ensure stability following a December post-election crisis that gripped the small nation.
“He is scheduled to commence the tour tomorrow… I understand that he is supposed to visit Ghana, Serra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia,” Communication Minister Demba Jawo confirmed.
Barrow assumed office after disputed elections last year which ECOWAS leaders judged to be free and fair.
His predecessor, Yahya Jammeh lost the election on December 1 and accepted the results but he rejected it a week later claiming the polls were tainted with irregularities.
The regional leaders sent a delegation led by Nigeria’s Muhammed Buhari but all attempts to prevail over Jammeh failed, leading to a military deployment to oust him.
Jammeh later listened to reason on January 21 and left the country a day later for Equatorial Guinea where he now lives in exile.
A total of 7000 troops were deployed from Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria with chief military advisers from Burkina Faso and Niger.
Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal contributed ground troops but only Nigeria and Senegal had deployed jet fighters and warships, which locked Gambia’s port until Jammeh’s departure.
All troops, according to the ECOWAS agreement, were deployed on “self-sustenance basis” which meant that their countries will be responsible for their food and all other needs during their deployment and stay in Gambia.
In February, Ghana’s interior minister has told the country’s parliament that they have spent $450, 000 on deploying 208 ground troops to Gambia.
There are currently only 50 Ghanaian soldiers in the country and 500 regional troops.
They were downsized after the situation was contained.
ECOWAS troops were deployed to Gambia with three basic mandates: ensure Barrow takes power, by all means, necessary, ensure the safety of the population and reform the army which they will jointly do with the UN and other international partners.
President Barrow early in March fulfilled his promise to make his first international outing to Gambia’s next door neighbor, Senegal, as the leading player in the resolution of the post-December poll standoff.
President Barrow’s ECOWAS tour comes about a week after a controversial visit to the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), which divided his country over the alleged undemocratic credentials of President Dennis Sassou Nguesso.
Critics said his visit to the central African nation amounted to an endorsement of President Nguessou, who they say represented everything Jammeh stood for.
Congo’s proximity to Equatorial Guinea, whose leader is a friend of President Nguesso, also formed the basis of suspicion on the role Jammeh’s presence there might have played in the visit.