Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has taken the oath of office in neighboring Senegal, while the country’s defeated longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh refuses to step down, deepening a political crisis.
Barrow, the winner of a disputed December 1 vote, was inaugurated on Thursday in a hastily-arranged ceremony at Gambia’s embassy in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
“This is a day no Gambian will ever forget in a lifetime,” Barrow said in a speech immediately after being sworn in.
In Dakar, the small embassy room held about 40 people, including Senegal’s prime minister and the head of Gambia’s electoral commission.
Also at the event were officials from ECOWAS, West Africa’s regional bloc, which is threatening a military intervention to force Jammeh to leave office.
In his inauguration speech, Barrow called ECOWAS, the African Union and United Nations to “support the government and people of the Gambia in enforcing their will”.
Earlier this week, Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, declared a national state of emergency, while the parliament has extended his term in office by 90 days.