Senegalese troops entered The Gambia on Thursday in support of its new President Adama Barrow, who took office demanding loyalty from his own armed forces in a tense standoff with his defeated rival.
Barrow was sworn in at The Gambia’s embassy in Dakar, although longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down despite international pressure following his December election loss.
Celebrations erupted in the Gambian capital, which has been on edge over the crisis in the former British colony in west Africa.
Dressed all in white, 51-year-old Barrow waved to crowds at the ceremony that anointed him, seeking to end the 22-year rule of Jammeh, who has not been seen but is believed to be still in Banjul.
“This is a victory of the Gambian nation. Our flag will now fly high among those of the most democratic nations of the world,” he said.
Shortly after the inauguration, the UN Security Council unanimously backed efforts by the regional bloc ECOWAS to force Jammeh to hand over power, without formally authorising military action.
“I command the chief of defence staff and officers of high command to demonstrate their loyalty to me as commander in chief without any delay,” Barrow said at his inauguration.
“I command all members of the armed forces to remain in their barracks, those found wanting or in possession of firearms without my order will be considered rebels.”
Britain was among foreign powers to congratulate the new president.
Barrow, an opposition coalition candidate, defeated Jammeh, who had ruled the former British colony since taking power in a coup in 1994, in a surprise election win on December 1.