The former president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has reportedly stolen $11.4m from the Gambian state. He went into exile at the weekend.
According to the special adviser for new President Adama Barrow, in the last few weeks of power Jammeh started plundering cash and shipped out luxury cars by cargo plane.
Jammeh came to power in 1994 following a military coup. In his twenty-three years in power he earned a reputation for using violence to quell descent. In democratic elections late last year, he was unelected. He refused to leave citing foreign interference in the election.
On Saturday, however, he fled the country after Senegal’s military entered the country to remove him by force. The Gambian army refused to protect him.
President Barrow was sworn-in at the Gambian embassy in Senegal. He is due to return to the country within a few days.
At a press conference Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists that the Jammeh had left with $11m. He also stated that the outgoing president put vehicles and luxury goods on a Chad cargo plane and flew them out of the country, although some of his assets are still in Gambia.
He said, “The Gambia is in financial distress. The coffers are virtually empty. That is a state of fact. It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.”
Victory for Democracy
The installation of President Barrow is being hailed as a victory for democracy.
Professor Nic Cheeseman, who studies African politics, said that Gambia was good news but a rare case. He said due to its small size and Jammeh’s lack of allies together with a tendency of bigger nations such as Nigeria to hold other West African states to higher standards all helped to free the country of the authoritarian dictator.
With the new president came a resurgence of life back into Gambia.