The Gambia missing $ millions as Jammeh flies into exile

  • By Sabina Aisha bint Aladdin Ćulibrk’

Over $11m (£9m) is missing from The Gambia’s state funds following the departure of long-time leader Yahya Jammeh, an adviser to incoming President Adama Barrow has said

Mai Ahmad Fatty said financial experts were trying to evaluate the exact loss.

Luxury cars and other items were reportedly loaded on to a Chadian cargo plane as Mr Jammeh left the country.

Jammeh, who flew into exile after 22 years in power, has not commented on the allegations.

Jammeh had refused to accept election results but finally left after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of multinational African military intervention.

Before his departure Jammeh tried to secure a deal in which he could not be brought back into The Gambia for criminal trial or war crimes after his departure. Details of any such deal if any was struck have not been revelled by either side.

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President Barrow remains in neighbouring Senegal and it is not clear when he will return.

However, West African multinational troops entered the Gambian capital, Banjul, on Sunday to prepare for his arrival.

Cheering crowds gathered outside the State House to watch soldiers secure the building.

The Senegalese general leading the joint force from five African nations said they were controlling “strategic points to ensure the safety of the population and facilitate Barrow’s assumption of his role”.

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Fatty told reporters in the Senegalese capital Dakar that The Gambia was in financial distress.

“The coffers are virtually empty. It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.”

Fatty said Jammeh had made off with nearly 500 million dalasis ($11.3m) in the past two weeks alone.

“That’s a lot of money, considering that we spend about 200 million dalasis on required expenditure relating to payment of civil service and so forth.” 

This would equate to Jammeh being accused of, over the last two weeks alone, taking off with two and a half years’ worth of national spending.

Jammeh is reported to now be in Equatorial Guinea, although authorities there have not confirmed it.

Jammeh is suspected to have business interests in the oil-rich state, and is likely to be protected by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The president has ruled the central African country since 1979, and is seen by the international community to be authoritarian, like Jammeh.

Equatorial Guinea does not recognise the International Criminal Court (ICC) and has weak civil society and opposition groups, reducing the chances of the government coming under pressure to hand over Jammeh to either the ICC or Barrow’s government for prosecution.

The UN, African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) had issued a joint statement, promising to protect Mr Jammeh’s rights “as a citizen, a party leader and a former Head of State”.

They also gave an assurance that his “lawful” assets would not be seized.

However, Mr Fatty distanced Mr Barrow from the undertaking.

“As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t exist,” he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

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