Ten of the new Gambian government’s 18 ministers were sworn in Wednesday, less than a week after freshly-elected President Adama Barrow arrived in the country following a major political crisis.
In a vote in December, Barrow defeated longtime leader Yahya Jammeh, who for several weeks refused to step down.
Barrow left the country for Senegal, where he remained until Jammeh agreed to step aside and go into exile.
Among the cabinet members sworn in were Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe, a veteran of the opposition to Jammeh’s regime.
Special advisor to Barrow, Mai Fatty, was sworn in as interior minister, while the ex-treasurer of the main former opposition, Amadou Sanneh, became minister of finance.
Fatty was the defence lawyer for several opposition figures before going into exile and setting up his own dissident party in 2009. He returned to The Gambia in 2011.
Darboe, the head of the United Democratic Party, ran for president against Jammeh four times — in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 — but was defeated.
Along with several other opposition figures, he was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail last summer for participating in an unauthorised protest.
He was released four days after Jammeh lost the vote to Barrow on December 1.
Sanneh too was sentenced to five years in prison in 2013 for writing an open letter alleging that two opposition activists risked death if they were not allowed to go into exile.
He was granted a presidential pardon on Monday.
Barrow last week chose a former minister of Jammeh’s government as vice-president.
Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang has been described as the woman who persuaded The Gambia’s divided opposition parties to club together and field a single candidate in the election which Barrow eventually won.
Eight more ministers have yet to be named.
"The rest of the appointments ... will be determined based on their skills, their experience and their professionalism," Barrow’s spokesman Halifa Sallah told reporters.
In another development Barrow renamed The Gambia’s intelligence service, seen under Jammeh’s rule as an instrument of brutal repression.
The new body, named the State Intelligence Services, "shall no more arrest, detain or undertake any activities that are unconstitutional especially with regards to human (and) civil rights", an official statement said late Tuesday.
Barrow later dismissed the head of the service and appointed his successor, according to a statement read on state television late Wednesday.
- Workers erect a billboard to advertise the planned February 18 inauguration of Gambian President Adama Barrow in Banjul on January 26, 2017.