Africa

Gambia plans Feb. 18 celebration as new leader arrives home

  • Gambian President Adama Barrow greets the crowds after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia's new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here's a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow's return — and the exile of the country's longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

    Gambian President Adama Barrow greets the crowds after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia's new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here's a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow's return — and the exile of the country's longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)  (The Associated Press)

  • Gambian President Adama Barrow waves as he rides his motorcade through crowds of hundreds of thousands after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia's new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here's a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow's return — and the exile of the country's longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

    Gambian President Adama Barrow waves as he rides his motorcade through crowds of hundreds of thousands after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia's new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here's a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow's return — and the exile of the country's longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)  (The Associated Press)

  • Gambians cheer as President Adama Barrow rides his motorcade through crowds of hundreds of thousands after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia's new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here's a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow's return — and the exile of the country's longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

    Gambians cheer as President Adama Barrow rides his motorcade through crowds of hundreds of thousands after arriving at Banjul airport in Gambia, Thursday Jan. 26, 2017, after flying in from Dakar, Senegal. Gambia's new president has finally arrived in the country, a week after taking the oath of office abroad amid a whirlwind political crisis. Here's a look at the tumble of events that led to Adama Barrow's return — and the exile of the country's longtime leader. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)  (The Associated Press)

Billboards across Gambia's capital are declaring a Feb. 18 ceremony to mark the inauguration of the country's new leader, a day after his triumphant arrival.

Hundreds of thousands turned out Thursday to greet President Adama Barrow, a week after he took the oath of office in neighboring Senegal. Longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, who clung to power despite losing December elections, finally flew into exile over the weekend.

Gambia has high hopes for Barrow, who has vowed to create greater freedoms in this tiny West African nation.

"Much has to be done to tell the people their vote counts," spokesman Halifa Sallah said Friday.

A regional force that secured Gambia for Barrow's arrival says it will reduce its presence gradually. Barrow wants it to stay for six months to provide security.