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Gambia’s founding father, Sir Dawda Jawara, dies

Sir Dawda Jawara, who led Gambia for more than 30 years, died on Tuesday.

Sir Dawda Jawara outside Gambia House in West London (PA)
Sir Dawda Jawara outside Gambia House in West London (PA)

By PA Reporter

Sir Dawda Jawara, who ruled Gambia for more than 30 years as prime minister and then as its first president after independence from Britain, died on Tuesday in the tiny west African nation’s capital, Banjul. He was 95.

The office of Gambian President Adama Barrow confirmed the 95-year-old’s death in a statement, calling him “a champion of international peace, justice and human rights,” and the founding father of “one of Africa’s few successful parliamentary democracies”.

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Sir Dawda Jawara, seen here seated to the left of Queen Elizabeth, died on Tuesday aged 95. (Tim Ockenden/PA)

Born in Gambia in 1924, Sir Dawda studied veterinary science at the University of Glasgow, before entering politics in his homeland in the late 1950s.

In 1960, he contested and won his first election with the ruling People’s Progressive Party, who made him prime minister and head of government two years later.

Sir Dawda led his country to independence from Britain in 1965, and to full republic status in 1970, at which time he became president.

He led the country until 1994, when deposed in a bloodless military coup led by Yahya Jammeh, who went on to rule for 22 years. Sir Dawda then lived in Britain until 2002, when he returned to his homeland.

He will be honoured in a state funeral on Thursday.

PA

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