Gambians celebrate 52nd independence anniversary, optimistic about the future

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The new President of Gambia, Adama Barrow, was yesterday sworn in in front of a crowd of thousands. His predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, had refused to leave power, plunging the country's future into uncertainty.

Having initially accepted the result, Mr Jammeh changed his mind and attempted to cling on to power, before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea in January under threat of military intervention by neighbouring state members of the African Union.

The move was seen as a goodwill gesture from Barrow, whose inauguration on Saturday as the third president of The Gambia coincided with the 52nd independence anniversary. Barrow has promised to stay in the International Criminal Court, rejoin the Commonwealth, and free political prisoners. At Saturday's ceremony, Barrow said his government will undertake key constitutional and legal reforms and said he would highlight them in his first address to the National Assembly.

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"We feel happy because he is our elected president".

Barrow, 52, was born the year that The Gambia gained independence.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Heads of State of the sub region with the remarkable presence of Senegalese president Macky Sall who played a crucial role in ensuring that Barrow takes over command as deserved.

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"Few people would have thought that I'd be standing here today", Mr Barrow said, wearing a traditional flowing white robe with gold trim.

Others attending included the leaders of Ghana, Liberia and Ivory Coast and the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

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