Gambia’s new leader moves to presidential palace 11 months after assuming power

After nearly 11 months of living outside the official residence and working from a tempt office, President Adama Barrow and his family have officially moved to the executive mansion at Marina Parade, making Banjul his new home.

President Barrow broke with tradition by running the affairs from the nation first from a hotel room and later from the Vice President’s residence following a political standoff ignited by his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down.

Barrow moved to the State House [Gambia’s equivalent of the White House] on Sunday, a day ahead of schedule. He was supposed to have moved in in October but renovations were behind schedule.

Before leaving the Gambia for Equatorial Guinea, Jammeh had vandalized the presidential palace, destroying furniture, computers, telephone and internet connections and part of the structure.

Authorities dispelled widespread reports that the air conditioning system was stuffed with poisoned powder but security sources confirmed that safety reasons were behind the long-awaited occupancy of the State House by its new tenants.

Mr. Barrow has two wives, Fatoumatta Barrow and Sarjo Barrow and there are lingering questions surrounding the Barrow’s family’s unusual living arrangement.

First Lady Fatoumata Barrow arrived at the State House with Mr. Barrow and is mostly conducting state functions, including joining the president in foreign visits, holding some solo events and representing the Gambia in the meetings with other first ladies.

Lady Sarjo Barrow stayed largely out of sight and was an absent first lady at the outset of the administration until her recent and only known public engagement of women in the country’s Upper River Region. She has slowly been raising her profile and traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the president.

Now that Mr. Barrow is in the State House full time, the pressure will build for him to do more to meet those high expectations that Gambians had and booted out Jammeh barely a year ago. It will mark the official end of his honeymoon with even those that have been asking for patience for him to put things in order.

Officially moving to the State House is an indication that things are gradually falling into place, as Mr. Barrow asserts his authority and implement fiscal disciplinary measures and security reform.

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