Gambians unsure how much money Jammeh took into exile

Gambians unsure how much money Jammeh took into exile
Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh boards a plane at the airport as he flying into exile from Gambia. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Just how much wealth former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh managed to take with him when he flew out of capital Banjul and into exile late on Saturday (January 21) is subject to speculation.

Jammeh, who refused to accept his poll defeat to opposition challenger Adama Barrow, is believed to have acquired a vast fortune during his brutal 22-year rule.

A West African regional force had been launched to remove him from power and Jammeh finally left last Saturday.

While Jammeh left aboard a jet with Guinea President Conde, two other planes – a Mauritanian aircraft and a cargo plane from Chad – were being prepared for departure on the tarmac, fuelling speculation over their purpose.

Barrow said on Sunday (January 22) it appeared his predecessor had looted state resources after his election defeat.

Barrow’s advisor, Mai Ahmad Fatty, later told journalists Jammeh had withdrawn 500 million dalasis (11.4 million USD / 10.6 million Euro) in the past two weeks, adding that the Chadian cargo plane on tarmac appeared to ferry some belongings of the former president.

“We are told it contains lots of luxury goods, lots of expensive vehicles and other stuff. What we have done today… We understand that these luxury goods, transport, cars and others, have not been, fully, all of them have not been transported, there are still some who are at the airport. We have directed that whatever is at the airport will stay,” Fatty told journalists.

Journalists said they witnessed the Mauritanian aircraft take off when Jammeh left.

On the streets of Banjul, residents were just happy to see the back of the man who had ruled over Gambia for so long.

“Jammeh has gone with a lot of money so right now Gambians we are poor, right now, nothing is inside here. So he loot all our money, everything, you know,” Banjul resident Salba Jagne said.

“We are tired for 22 years, enough is enough, you know! He is a very very wicked and bad man, we don’t need him anymore in our country,” he added.

“Even if this was the case and he actually went with money, it is what we were expecting and it is not a problem because at least he left us in peace. I don’t see a problem really because I know Gambians are hard working and we can always get back what he took from us,” another resident, Mohamed Jobarteh said.

On Monday, a day after Barrow had said there was no money left in the state coffers, a spokesman for Barrow said the country’s central bank is “intact”,

It was not immediately clear if Barrow and his adviser had been referring to central bank funds or other state resources.

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