Exiled former president Yahya Jammeh ‘stole $11.4m’ from the Gambia
Adviser to new president claims exiled ruler plundered state coffers and shipped out luxury vehicles by cargo plane in the weeks before he left office
Exiled Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh stole millions of dollars in his final weeks in power, plundering the state coffers and shipping out luxury vehicles by cargo plane, a special adviser for the new president has claimed.
A regional military force has rolled in, greeted by cheers, to secure the West African nation so that democratically elected President Adama Barrow could return home. He remained in neighbouring Senegal, where he took the oath of office on Thursday because of concerns for his safety.
At a press conference in the Senegalese capital, Barrows special adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists the president will return home as soon as possible.
Underscoring the challenges facing the new administration, Fatty alleged that Jammeh made off with more than US$11.4m (9.18m) during a two-week period.
Jammeh and his family took an offer of exile after more than 22 years in power and departed late on Saturday.
The Gambia is in financial distress. The coffers are virtually empty. That is a state of fact, Fatty said. It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.
Fatty also said that a Chadian cargo plane had transported luxury goods out of the country on Jammehs behalf in his final hours in power, including an unknown number of vehicles.
Fatty said officials at the Gambia airport had been ordered not to allow any of Jammehs belongings to leave. Separately, it appeared that some of his goods remained in Guinea, where Jammeh and his closest allies stopped on their flight into exile.
Fatty said officials regret the situation, but it appeared that the major damage had been done, leaving the new government with little recourse to recoup the funds.
The unpredictable Jammeh, known for startling declarations such as his claim that bananas and herbal rubs could cure Aids, went into exile under mounting international pressure, with a wave to supporters as soldiers wept. He is now in Equatorial Guinea, home to Africas longest-serving ruler and not a state party to the international criminal court (ICC).