Return ends anxious wait after crisis sparked by predecessor Yahya Jammehs refusal to step down
The Gambias new president, Adama Barrow, returned to his country on Thursday afternoon, prompting a noisy and joyous wave of hope and excitement at the prospect of a brighter future for the small, poor west African state.
By late afternoon, thousands of people had lined the streets of Banjul, the capital, blowing whistles, dancing, banging drums and singing We welcome you, our president, our hope, our solution in the local Fula language.
Hundreds more thronged the airport, cheering when Barrow emerged from the plane that had brought him from neighbouring Senegal in a flowing white robe, accompanied by his wife and children. He walked slowly along a red carpet, greeted by military officials and members of his coalition government.
I am a happy man I think the bad part is finished now, the 51-year-old former property developer told reporters at the airport.
The arrival of Barrow brings to an end a prolonged political crisis in the Gambia.
Fatou Jagne Senghor, the west Africa director of Article 19, a pro-freedom of expression organisation, said the development was very welcome. The Gambia has been waiting for this. Everyone has been … looking forward to the new era where peoples voices are heard, said Senghor, who is from Gambia.
Ebrima Bah, who was waiting at the airport, said: The arrival is long overdue. His arrival is raising my confidence in the new government.