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Gambia’s new president to arrive in the country on Thursday

An ECOWAS Senegalese soldier guards the State House entrance in Banjul, Gambia, Wednesday Jan. 25, 2017. Gambia's new President Adama Barrow will arrive in the country on Thursday, a week after he was sworn into office in neighboring Senegal, officials with the new government confirmed Wednesday. (Sylvain Cherkaoui / Associated Press)
An ECOWAS Senegalese soldier guards the State House entrance in Banjul, Gambia, Wednesday Jan. 25, 2017. Gambia's new President Adama Barrow will arrive in the country on Thursday, a week after he was sworn into office in neighboring Senegal, officials with the new government confirmed Wednesday. (Sylvain Cherkaoui / Associated Press)
By Carley Petesch Associated Press

BANJUL, Gambia – Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow will arrive in the country on Thursday, a week after he was sworn into office in neighboring Senegal, a spokesman for the opposition coalition confirmed Wednesday.

Barrow is expected to arrive in Banjul at 5 p.m. local time Thursday, said Halifa Sallah. Barrow was waiting for the West African regional force to confirm that it was safe from him to return to Gambia, said Sallah.

Barrow was sworn into office last week in neighboring Senegal, where he was for his safety. A new inauguration will be held on Gambian soil, said Halifa, speaking on Senegalese radio. “We will organize a ceremony soon at the stadium. It will be an occasion to show strength. Everyone will be invited. The president will address his people.”

Gambians eagerly await Barrow, who has promised to reverse many of the actions of longtime leader Yahya Jammeh. Barrow defeated Jammeh in December elections that the ruling party challenged.

Jammeh finally flew into exile over the weekend after African and international pressure, ending a more than 22-year rule. He has been accused by rights groups and others of leading a government that suppressed opponents with detentions, beatings and killings.

A West African regional military force that was poised to oust Jammeh if diplomatic talks failed has been securing Gambia for Barrow’s arrival. He has requested that the force remain in Gambia for six months, but it is unclear whether heads of state with the regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, will approve a deployment for that long.

He has been busy this week forming his Cabinet and has named a woman, Fatoumata Tabajang, as vice president. She has vowed to seek prosecution for Jammeh, who flew with family and close aides to Equatorial Guinea.

On Tuesday, Gambia’s lawmakers lifted the country’s state of emergency and revoked a three-month extension of Jammeh’s term, as the new government began dismantling his final attempts to cling to power.

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