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Senegal army enters Gambia in support of Barrow : reports

January 19, 2017

Senegalese troops have entered Gambia after Adama Barrow was sworn in as president. Political crisis continues in the country as longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh refuses to step down.

Senegal Gambias neuer Präsident Adama Barrow
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo

News agencies reported on Thursday that troops from Senegal had entered the Gambia. "We have entered Gambia," Colonel Abdou Ndiaye wrote in a text message to Reuters news agency.

A hastily arranged ceremony took place in the Senegalese capital of Dakar to inaugurate Adama Barrow as the new president of Gambia. Around 40 people were present in the ceremony, including Senegal's prime minister and head of Gambia's electoral commission. Several hundred people watched the televised event standing outside the Gambian embassy in Dakar, news agencies reported.

"This is a day no Gambian will ever forget in a lifetime," Barrow said in his inaugural speech.

Following the ceremony, he called upon security forces in his country to "demonstrate their loyalty," asking soldiers to remain in their barracks. Those who did not would be considered rebels, the Reuters news agency reported. Thousands of Gambians were reported to have fled the country fearing unrest, the UN said. Officials from ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, were also present at the swearing-in.

The group has threatened to invade Gambia to force out Yahya Jammeh. The UN Security Council has meanwhile unanimously backed the new president and called for a peaceful transition of power.

Jammeh has been in power since a coup in 1994. His mandate ended after Barrow won the elections in December. Jammeh conceded initially, but backtracked later, saying the vote was flawed. Subsequent talks to persuade him to step down also failed.

Adama Barrow is a former businessman and a real estate tycoon. He was chosen the head of the coalition of Gambia's opposition parties. After winning the elections in December, he announced his country's exit from the Commonwealth - a group of former British colonies - and the International Criminal Court, which tries crimes against humanity.

mg/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)