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Gambia's President Barrow set to arrive in Banjul today

Yahya Jammeh stepped down on Saturday and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea under diplomatic pressure.

Gambian president-Adama Barrow. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Gambia’ s new president Adama Barrow, is set to finally return to his west African nation after a week of uncertainty.

Barrow’s aides say he ll arrive in Banjul today from neighbouring Senegal, where he was sworn in last week.

Gambia’s new president, a property developer who lacks political experience, has to allay fears that his
administration has got off to a shaky start amid concerns that his delayed return was causing a power vacuum.

There has been criticism over his vice-presidential nominee, and he has yet to appoint a cabinet.

Barrow’s nomination of Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang as his deputy prompted criticism.

She is allegedly two years over the constitutional age limit of 65.

Barrow has asked a regional force of several thousand soldiers to stay and help him restore democratic governance after they entered Gambia last week to enforce election results that brought an end to Yahya Jammeh's 22 years in power.

Jammeh's government gained a reputation for the torture and killing of perceived opponents and many Gambians are furious that he will not face trial at home for those abuses.

"He (Barrow) is leaving tomorrow and will arrive in Banjul at around 4 p.m. (1600 GMT)," aide Amie Bojang told Reuters.

Jammeh pitched Gambia into turmoil in December when he refused to accept his loss in an election to Barrow and demanded another vote.

The former soldier finally stepped down on Saturday and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea under diplomatic pressure and after West African Ecowas troops crossed into Gambia.

Those forces are still there, and Barrow spokesman Halifa Sallah told Reuters on Wednesday that he had requested they stay for six months. He said this was still under discussion.

Gambians cheered them on when they arrived but Barrow's government is aware of the possibility of tensions if they stay much longer.

"The Ecowas forces are to collaborate with forces in The Gambia to ensure the safety of the president, the government and the Gambian people," he said.

"The plan is to integrate (them) ... so they can see the issue is not another country invading or occupying Gambia."

Additional Reporting by Reuters