New leaders of Gambia and Comoros celebrate Eid in Saudi Arabia

The presidents of two of Africa’s smallest nations sat side by side in Mecca, Saudi Arabia where they celebrated the Eid and performed the Hajj pilgrimage.

President Adama Barrow of The Gambia and President Azali Assoumani of Comoros were sworn-in just months apart, both winning about 41% of the votes.

Barrow and Assoumani although experienced different transitions both face socio-economic development challenges left behind by their predecessors.

Gambia and Comoros youth expect a lot from Barrow and Assoumani. Many want jobs and adequate supply of electricity and other basic necessities.

West African troops had to step in to push Barrow’s rival, Yahya Jammeh, aside to have him take over power. Gambia’s rocky political transition hit the country’s economy hard.

Assoumani had been the President of Comoros before. He first came to power through a coup in 1999 before winning the presidential election three years later.

Gambia and Comoros are one of the world’s poorest countries. Economic growth and poverty reduction are major priorities for the governments.

Fiscal policy in the small nations is constrained by erratic fiscal revenues, a bloated civil service wage bill, and an external debt that is far above their gross domestic product.

Barrow and Ansoumani vowed to upgrade education and technical training, to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce the high population growth rate.

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