Barrow Sworn in as Gambian President as Ex-Leader Seeks Deal

BANJUL (Capital Markets in Africa) – Adama Barrow was sworn into office as the president of Gambia at a ceremony in neighboring Senegal as mediators sought to negotiate an amnesty deal with the outgoing leader to stave off military intervention by West African states.

Barrow, 51, decided to take his oath at the Gambian embassy in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, after Yahya Jammeh, who lost the presidential election, refused to leave office and called for new elections. The ceremony was broadcast live Thursday on Senegal’s RTS television.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote later Thursday on a resolution that would authorize the Economic Community of West African States to use all necessary means to enforce the outcome of last month’s elections. Jammeh, who’s been in office since 1994 and once vowed to rule for a billion years, surprised the nation of fewer than 2 million by acknowledging he lost the vote before changing his mind and casting doubt over the results.

Jammeh, 51, is negotiating a deal to step down with Mauritania’s president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, two people familiar with the situation said. He’s seeking a security detail and clearance to take his assets, the regional officials said, asking not to be identified because a public announcement hasn’t been made. His request to stay in his home village of Kanilai has been denied, they said. It wasn’t clear where he will go.

Thousands of Gambians have fled to Senegal, piling mattresses, chairs and other household goods on taxis crossing the border, with the Senegalese government estimating that almost 30,000 people have arrived. Travel company Thomas Cook said it was flying back about 1,000 U.K. customers. Gambia depends on tourists from the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands for the bulk of its revenue.

Military forces from Nigeria and Ghana have joined security forces in Senegal, which shares three borders with Gambia, to prepare for an intervention in the tiny country.

The regional states decided to take the action after Jammeh, 51, declared a 90-day state of emergency late Tuesday. The African Union has said it will no longer recognize Jammeh as president as of Thursday.

The Nigerian Air Force said on its Facebook page that it’s deploying 200 men, fighter jets, transport aircraft and a helicopter to Senegal for the operation. Ghana sent more than 200 troops to bolster the intervention force, presidential spokesman Eugene Arhin said in an e-mailed statement.

Gambia’s military is estimated to have 1,425 men in its army, navy, and gendarmerie combined, according to the web portal DefenceWeb.

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