Gambia revokes state of emergency in step towards political normality

A police woman controls traffic at Kairaba avenue in Banjul, Gambia January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia’s parliament on Tuesday revoked a state of emergency imposed last week by former President Yahya Jammeh shortly before he fled into exile, as the tiny West African country slowly recovered from its political crisis.

Jammeh plunged Gambia into turmoil in early December when he refused to accept his election defeat to challenger Adama Barrow, demanding a new poll and later dissolving the National Assembly and declaring a three-month state of emergency.

But the former soldier finally relinquished power on Saturday under strong diplomatic pressure that was backed-up by several thousand West African troops who crossed into Gambia and were poised to enforce the election result.

“The National Assembly hereby resolved ... to approve the revocation of the declaration of the state of public emergency,” said majority leader, Fabakary Tombong Jatta of the unanimous vote.

Barrow has still not yet returned to Gambia from neighboring Senegal, where he took the oath of office on Thursday. He is due back in Gambia’s capital Banjul in the coming days.

The turmoil prompted some 76,000 people to flee to Senegal. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said about 8,000 had returned home and more were expected to follow.

Reporting by Lamin Jahateh; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Richard Lough