Gambian former president flees after allegedly pocketing $11m in public money

23 Jan 17

The former president of The Gambia has allegedly made off with $11m in public money after going into exile over the weekend.


Former president of The Gambia Yahya Jammeh Credit: US State Department

Former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has been accused of looting $11.4m in public funds before going into exile in Equatorial Guinea. Credit: US State Department


Yahya Jammeh had ruled The Gambia for two decades until he was beaten by contender Adama Barrow in an election late last year. After originally accepting the result, Jammeh then performed a u-turn and said he would not stand down.

Under widespread international pressure that saw a regional military force led by Senegal enter The Gambia last week, Jammeh finally left the country for exile in Equatorial Guinea. However, he supposedly took $11.4m worth of public money with him.

At a press conference in Senegal, special advisor to the new president, Ahmad Fatty, accused Jammeh of plundering the funds over two weeks

According to the Guardian, 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.”

He added that officials “regret the situation” but that there was little the new government could do to reclaim the funds.

The money is equal to around 1% of Gambian GDP and between 20-25% of quarterly government revenues, according to figures from a report published by the country’s central bank.

It represents a blow to state coffers already burdened with a debt stock that was worth 100% of GDP at the end of the first quarter of last year – the latest figures available from the central bank.

Jammeh is also said to have transported luxury goods outside of the country in his final hours in power, including expensive cars.

However a spokesman for Barrow later told the BBC today that no money is missing. He said the central bank and other institutions were "functioning normally" and advised anyone who wishes to make allegations to pass them to the inspector general of police for investigation. 

The former president is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea, where he will be free from the reach of the international criminal court.  

Jammeh was forced to leave office after his 22-year reign by the international community, mainly the Economic Community of West African States, who, led by Senegal, organised a regional force to enter The Gambia and remove Jammeh from his post.

Since then, the United Nations, the African Union and Ecowas have issued a declaration stating that Jammeh, his family and associates should only be subject to temporary exile and not have their lawful assets seized.

Fatty said that as far as the new administration is concerned, this declaration “doesn’t exist”.

President Barrow will now make his way to The Gambia from Senegal, where he was sworn in, to form a cabinet and launch a new period in The Gambia’s history. 

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