(Updates with comment from opposition party leader in fourth paragraph.)
Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh pledged to boost growth and create jobs in the small West African nation as he was sworn into his fourth term in office.
“My government’s objective is to turn the Gambia into an economic super-power that would be independent,” he said in a speech in Banjul, the capital, today.
Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, won 71 percent of votes in an election in November. The vote was condemned by the Economic Community of West African States, which refused to send observers, citing a political environment not conducive to free and fair polls.
Halifa Sallah, leader of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism, refused to attend the ceremony today, saying in an interview that the election wasn’t free and fair.
Jammeh, who called his win decisive, pledged to reduce corruption in the civil service and create jobs through skilled- labor training.
Gambia, with a population of about 1.8 million people, is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is surrounded by Senegal on three sides. Led by visitors from the U.K. and the Netherlands, tourism accounts for 16 percent of gross domestic product, according to the country’s National Planning Commission. Economic growth will be unchanged in 2012 at 5.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Jammeh’s rule has been criticized by groups including Amnesty International for alleged human rights violations including unlawful arrests and unfair trials. In 2007, Jammeh’s claim that he could cure AIDS was rejected by groups including the World Health Organization.
--Editors: Emily Bowers, Dulue Mbachu
To contact the reporter on this story: Suwaibou Touray in Banjul via Accra at firstname.lastname@example.org
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