President Adama Barrow is planning to return to Gambia on Tuesday, now that West African troops have secured the country, Barrow’s spokesperson said on Monday.
Barrow will return to the capital, Banjul, from neighbouring Senegal, where he sought refuge for security reasons, spokesperson Halifa Sallah said.
Barrow also appointed Fatoumata Tambajang as vice president, said Sallah.
It is Barrow’s first appointment since he took office on Jan. 19.
Tambajang is a prominent pro-democracy activist who was the driving force behind forming a coalition of opposition parties that rallied behind Barrow during the Dec. 1 presidential election.
Barrow’s return to Gambia comes after his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, left for Equatorial Guinea on Saturday, after weeks of pressure from West African leaders to step down.
Jammeh has not been granted immunity from prosecution in exile, according to Mai Fatty, an executive member of Barrow’s coalition.
Barrow rejected a proposal by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to protect Jammeh from prosecution, Fatty said.
Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye confirmed “no deal’’ had been negotiated with Jammeh, who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years with an iron fist.
Jammeh stands accused by the coalition of having stolen some 12 million dollars out of state coffers during the stand-off that followed his election loss.
Jammeh’s government was also widely accused of corruption, human rights abuses and an incessant crackdown on the opposition.
Barrow has said he plans to establish a commission to investigate potential wrongdoing by Jammeh, who spent weeks trying to overturn the result of the presidential election.
Throngs of Gambians, meanwhile, returned home from neighbouring Senegal on Monday, hours after ECOWAS troops secured Banjul and took control over the seat of government, State House.
Dozens of buses carted Gambians back across the border, while checkpoints were crowded with those waiting to cross on foot, bicycle or by car.
About 45,000 Gambians had fled to Senegal since the election, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). (dpa/NAN)