Troops Enter Gambia Capital to Prepare for Arrival of New Leader

Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) soldiers arrive in Banjul, Gambia, on Jan. 22, 2017.

Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

West African soldiers entered the Gambian capital to prepare for the arrival of President Adama Barrow, a day after his predecessor went into exile.

Economic Community of West African States forces are securing the presidential palace in Banjul before Barrow returns to the country, Chief of Defence Staff Ousman Bargie said in remarks broadcast on state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Service on Sunday. The troops will complement efforts by the Gambian military to stabilize the country, he said.

“President Barrow wishes to inform all Gambians and non-Gambians that the Ecowas troops that stepped onto Gambian soil are not an occupational force, but are here only to help complement the efforts of the Gambian Armed Forces to stabilize the country so that the society can be normalized,” Bargie said.

Former President Yahya Jammeh relinquished power on Saturday, ending a standoff triggered by his refusal to accept his defeat in last month’s presidential elections. Barrow said on his Twitter account on Sunday that he plans to return to Gambia “very soon.”

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