Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh ‘emptied coffers’ before leaving

January 23, 2017 8:00 am

People cheer Senegalese soldiers from a regional military force as they arrive at the Statehouse, in Banjul, , on January 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Gambia’s former president , who caused a political crisis in the African country before finally going into exile, has emptied the government’s treasury, plundering millions of dollars in his final weeks in power, says an aide to the country’s new president.
“Over two weeks, over 500 million dalasi (11 million dollars) were withdrawn” by Jammeh, Mai Fatty, an aide to the new President Adama Barrow, said in the Sengalese capital, Dakar, as quoted by media on Monday.
“As we take over, the government of The Gambia is in financial distress… The coffers are largely empty,” he told reporters.
Long-time ruler Jammeh flew out of The Gambia on Saturday and headed for Equatorial Guinea, where he is expected to settle with his family.
Before deciding to leave, he had pushed the country to the brink of war by refusing to concede defeat in a presidential election in December last year. The subsequent political crisis drew in mediators from regional countries, some of which were coping with crises of their own.
Those regional, mediating countries also formed up a military force to force Jammeh out of power if he did not step down voluntarily. Jammeh clung to power even for some two days after his mandate expired despite the threat of the use of force but ultimately decided to go into exile. He had been in power since a coup in 1994.

A woman celebrates after hearing about the departure of former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, in Banjul, January 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The West African military force entered The Gambia on Sunday to provide security and allow Barrow, who has been staying in neighboring Senegal, to return to The Gambia, whose own military had sided with Jammeh.
Barrow is eager to return “as soon as possible,” said Fatty, the aide to Barrow. He warned, however, that, “The state of security in The Gambia is still fragile.”
According to Fatty, President Barrow wants the West African military force deployed in The Gambia to remain in the country for the time being.
“We want their mandate to be extended,” Fatty said, adding that Barrow was waiting for personal assurances of loyalty from the country’s security forces.
He said that after the full transfer of power, the new administration’s first priority will be to ensure the safe return of tens of thousands of people who have fled the country in recent weeks fearing a violent escalation in the crisis.
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