Tens of thousands of Gambians chanted “weee Barrow” as the country’s new leader’s convoy crawls through the crowd of supporters that poured out on the narrow streets leading to a soccer park.
It has been a year since the country’s longtime iron-fist ruler, Yahya Jammeh was defeated in the elections and President Adama Barrow, who had to make decisive decisions to prevent the country from slipping into a bloody conflict is celebrating publicly for the first time.
Barrow was joined by the leaders of the political parties that backed him to defeat Jammeh. All the coalition leaders, including ousted security minister Mai Ahmad Fatty, showed up, except for Halifa Sallah, the leader of PDOIS and now a member of parliament.
“When we won the elections, I could not even celebrate. I was just thanking God. This is my first time celebrating and it is great to be doing so with all of you,” said Mr. Barrow.
“We do not have to spend money on celebrations. We will not do that but we deserve to celebrate this day. We stood up to fear and stood together and voted for change and rule of law.”
Barrow renewed his calls for a new and better Gambia, pleading with Gambians to shun cynicism and believe in his administration’s mission to build a Gambia that citizens can be proud of.
The Gambian leader, who defied odds has made improving the country’s energy supply a priority. The Gambia’s power supply company has been unable to meet energy demands and the president vowed to have it end before 2020.
Born in 1965 in a small village near the eastern market town of Basse, Mr. Barrow moved to London in the 2000s where he reportedly used to work as a security guard at an Argos catalog store, while studying for real estate qualifications.
He returned to The Gambia in 2006 to set up his own property company. This is the first time he is holding public office. He promised to revive the country’s economy, which has forced thousands of Gambians to make the perilous journey to Europe.
Barrow has criticised the lack of a two-term limit on the presidency and says he would introduce a three-year transitional government made up of members of the opposition coalition when he won elections.