The new Gambian president has said that he considers the UK to be his country’s number one trading partner.
In his first interview with a British media outlet, Adama Barrow told Sky News: “There is a strong tie with Britain and Gambia if you recall history.
“They colonised Gambia and we are part of the Commonwealth and we will return to the Commonwealth again. Any aspects that’s going on in Gambia, Britain will be our number one partner in terms of trade, in terms of democracy, in terms of good governance. They will be our partners.”
President Barrow was at pains to try to calm fears about The Gambia as a holiday destination after thousands of British tourists were caught up in the turmoil over the past few days.
With President Barrow’s predecessor Yahya Jammeh still ensconced in the capital’s State House, many holidaymakers have already been evacuated on safety grounds for fear of violence.
The Presidents of Guinea and Mauritania arrived in Banjul this morning in an attempt to offer the former leader one last chance to leave peacefully.
The former leader, who has ruled Gambia for the past 22 years, has been attempting to negotiate an amnesty against potential prosecution for human rights abuses during his time in office. President Barrow didn’t rule that out but wouldn’t be drawn on any commitment.
In an interview at a secure location in the Senegalese capital Dakar, the newly appointed President said: “We cannot make any premature decision. Once in office we will look at everything comprehensively.”
One of his aides has previously said the Barrow administration would take action against Mr Jammeh for decades of abuse.
The Senegalese army spokesman was quoted saying his troops are on the outskirts of the capital awaiting orders.
A noon deadline appears to have been extended while negotiations continue for a peaceful resolution. Mr Jammeh has asked for an extension until 4pm UK time.
President Barrow appeared calm and relaxed. Like the new US President, Donald Trump, he was the surprise victor in Gambia’s election last month.
“We have a lot in common,” he said, “We are both businessmen”. He urged the new American leader to be open to business and trade with Gambia and Africa generally.