Exiled Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh has stolen 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 alleged on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a regional military force rolled in, greeted by cheers, to secure this tiny West African nation so that democratically elected President Adama Barrow could return home.
Barrow remained in neighbouring Senegal, where he took the oath of office Thursday because of concerns for his safety.
“According to information we received, there is no money in the coffers. It’s what we have been told, but the day we actually take office we will clarify all of it,” Barrow told Senegalese radio station RFM
At a press conference in the Senegalese capital, Barrow’s special adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists that the president “will return home as soon as possible.”
Underscoring the challenges facing the new administration, Fatty confirmed that Jammeh made off with more than $11.4 million US during a two-week period alone.
That is only what they have discovered so far since Jammeh and his family took an offer of exile after more than 22 years in power and departed late 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 confirmed that a Chadian cargo plane had transported luxury goods out of the country on Jammeh’s behalf in his final hours in power, including an unknown number of vehicles.
Fatty said officials at the Gambia airport have been ordered not to allow any of Jammeh’s 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.