Gambia’s President Adama Barrow was visibly filled with joy as he takes part in a ceremony honoring the country’s first president, Sir Dawda Jawara.
Mr. Jawara’s portrait has been added to the African Union founding fathers’ Wall of Fame in its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Under Jawara, The Gambia gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and became a Republic in 1970.
Jawara championed the Africa’s march towards respect for human rights leading to the Banjul Charter (African Charter on Humans and Peoples’ Rights).
But The Gambia’s modest example of respect for human rights and rule of law ended in 1994 when Mr. Jawara was ousted by his bodyguard, Lt. Yahya Jammeh in a coup.
Jammeh became an eccentric despot notorious for killing, torturing and disappearing political opponents, pro-democracy campaigners, journalists and human rights defenders.
He was defeated in the polls by Barrow, who was supported by African leaders following Jammeh’s refusal to step aside and hand over power.
Barrow has pledged to work towards restoring Gambia’s glory that has been tainted by Jammeh’s dictatorship and the hanging of Jawara’s portrait is regarded a good sign of progress.
This was Barrow’s first African Union Summit since taking power in January and he called for political pluralism and inclusiveness, democratic tenants pushed for by Jawara in the defunct OAU.
Jawara, 93, is a respected elderly statesman. He had served with the regional economic bloc, ECOWAS Commission as president before retiring.