Gambia’s newly-elected President Adama Barrow has returned to the country to assume power – days after his predecessor Yahya Jammeh left to go into exile.
Adama Barrow’s plane touched down at Banjul airport where jubilant crowds waited to welcome him. After landing, he tweeted: “I’m finally home #Gambia.”
The president, who has been in neighboring Senegal, won elections on December 1st.
However, a handover was stalled when Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s leader of 22 years, refused to step aside.
The new president, dressed in white robes and a cap, stepped off the plane in Banjul as heavily armed troops from Senegal and Nigeria stood by.
Overhead, a fighter jet from the West African force guaranteeing Adama Barrow’s security performed fly-pasts.
He told a reporter from the Associated Press in the crush at the airport: “I am a happy man today.”
He added: “I think the bad part is finished now.”
Adama Barrow said his priority was to appoint his cabinet and “then get the ball rolling”.
He was driven from the airport in a convoy of cars and waved to the crowds who lined the route.
The new president is staying at his own home while a security assessment is carried out at the official residence, State House.
AdamaBarrow was sworn in as president at the Gambian embassy in Senegal a week ago, but a public inauguration on home soil is planned soon, aides say.
The UN envoy for West Africa, Mohamed ibn Chambas, has said the UN will help guarantee security in The Gambia.
Several thousand West African soldiers remain in The Gambia amid reports that rogue pro-Jammeh elements are embedded in the country’s security forces.
President Adama Barrow has asked for the force to remain in The Gambia for six months.
His spokesman Halifa Sallah said an inauguration was being planned for the national stadium in Banjul.
Yahya Jammeh, who was a 29-year-old army lieutenant when he came to power in a 1994 coup, had refused to accept the results of the December election.
In other developments, parliament has canceled the state of emergency declared by Yahya Jammeh last week. It also revoked legislation that would have extended its life for a further 90 days.