Gambia’s first president after independence from Britain in 1965, Dawda Jawara, was buried on Thursday in Banjul, the capital.
Speaker of The Gambia National Assembly, Mariam Jack Denton, said he was known for his integrity, kindness and sense of humour.
“Our hearts are heavy with this lost. He was an ardent promoter of human rights. He was a patriot and a true son of this country.”
Sedia Jatta, one of the opposition leaders who contested 1987 elections against Dawda Jawara, described his former opponent as a democrat and a tolerant person.
“We are not only here to pay homage to who brought independence to this country, but to learn from the challenges he faced as a leader. We have to learn tolerance from him.”
Gambia President Adama Barrow said: “It is with deep regret that I deliver this statement on this solemn occasion. The entire Gambian nation is in a state of mourning. We are mourning because our nation has lost its first premier, prime minister and president for over 30 years.”
Dawda Jawara, who died Tuesday at age 95, was a Glassgow trained veterinary doctor who ruled the small West African country from independence to 1994 when he was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Yahya Jammeh who ruled the country for 22 years.
He sought refuge in the U.K. where he lived with his family up to 2002, when he returned home after President Yahya Jammeh granted him amnesty and returned his assets, which were seized by a Commission of Inquiry established by the military junta to investigate cabinet members and officials of the previous regime. (AFP)