In Africa, democracy is hard to come by, but for The Gambia, a small West African nation surrounded by Senegal, that dream may just be within reach. For 22 years, President Yahya Jammeh ruled the country, having seized power in a 1994 coup. After the historic elections in which Adama Barrow beat out Yahya Jammeh, many Gambians hoped for meaningful democracy.

However, Mr. Jammeh refused to step down just days after the election, and it seemed  that The Gambia’s chance at freedom had been lost. Subsequently, Mr. Barrow was forced to flee to neighboring Senegal, where he waited in exile for more than a month.

After Mr. Barrow took the oath of office in Senegal on January 19, Senegalese troops entered The Gambia with the backing of other African nations and forced Mr. Jammeh to step down.

Mr. Barrow’s path to real change remains uncertain. The officials that remained in the Gambian parliament until the April 6 election, which gave Mr. Barrow’s party a convincing majority, stayed loyal to Mr. Jammeh in resistance of regime change. Most importantly, the chief of the Gambian military has pledged allegiance to the defeated president. Mr. Barrow responded to that pledge by declaring that any armed military personnel outside the military barracks were to be treated as rebels by the Senegalese army. The conflict led to an international effort to occupy The Gambia and instill Mr. Barrow as President. Throughout this time, The Gambia has also been facing economic difficulties. When Jammeh fled the country, $11 million from the nation’s treasury left with him. This has not aided the already struggling nation.

Despite these challenges, The Gambia, under the direction of Mr. Barrow, has the potential to become a prosperous democracy. The new parliament gives Mr. Barrow a real chance of shaping the state into a stable organization with the capacity to institute and maintain democracy long after the end of Mr. Barrow’s term.

With respect to the economy, there is much room for improvement under Mr. Barrow. The Gambia ranks at the bottom third of world corruption indexes; the nation has suffered economically in recent years due to mismanagement of government funds. However, the change to a democratically elected government and Mr. Barrow’s support of a free press will do much to clear out corrupt officials. In addition, Mr. Barrow pledges to pursue job-creation to counter the drop in tourism due to the Ebola outbreak.

Few deny that Mr. Barrow’s presidency will be a difficult one, but with the support of his people, he has a rare opportunity. President Barrow can shape The Gambia into a democracy and a beacon of hope in the developing world. He has won the support of a nation yearning to enjoy a free and prosperous life. He must honor that trust.