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Dawda Jawara

The first president of Gambia after decolonisation. During his term of office, he respected the presence of political opposition. A coup d'état in 1994 led to his exile in Senegal.

Born on MacCarthy Island (Gambia) in 1924, Dawda Jawara changed his name to David after marrying and converting to Christianity (1955). However, ten years later, he once again assumed the name of Dawda in his conversion to Islam. Of his political career, we can highlight his leadership of the People´s Progressive Party in 1959 and the minister position he obtained one year later. When general elections were held in 1962, his party obtained a victory that proclaimed him prime minister of Gambia. During this term of office, the country became independent from the United Kingdom (1965).

Throughout this new historical era, Dawda Jawara positioned himself as the president of the new State and was re-elected in 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987 and 1992. During this entire period, the opposition was respected, he relied on the Community of Nations and the Organisation for African Unity, as well as Non Alignment. 1981 was a conflictive year, when Gambia suffered a military coup d'état while Jawara was at the wedding of Prince Charles in England. Although it was unsuccessful, a new coup in 1994 overthrew him and exiled him to Senegal.