Speed Reads

Gambia

Defeated Gambian leader drained state coffers, shipped luxury cars out before being forced into exile

On Sunday, an adviser to Gambian President Adama Barrow said that former President Yahya Jammeh had nearly drained the national coffers in his final weeks before flying into exile on Saturday, as a regional West African military force entered Gambia to force him out of office. Jammeh lost December's election to Barrow, conceded defeat, then changed his mind a week later. Jammeh, who was in power 22 years, also shipped an unknown number of luxury vehicles and other goods out of the country on Saturday on a Chadian cargo plane.

"Gambia is in financial distress," Barrow adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty said at a press conference in Senegal, where Barrow took the oath of office and is staying until Gambia is deemed safe. "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." Fatty said that Jammeh had made off with at least $11.4 million in the two weeks, and financial experts are trying to see how much more is missing. Barrow "will return home as soon as possible," he added.

The West African military force arrived in Gambia's capital, Banjul, on Sunday night, greeted by cheering residents. They will start sweeping the State House, the president's official residence, to make sure it is safe, and stay in the country "until such time the security general situation is comprehensively redressed," Barrow said in a statement. Barrow is assembling a Cabinet and working on plans to reverse the state of emergency Jammeh put in place in his final weeks. Jammeh is reported to be in Equatorial Guinea, which is not party to the International Criminal Court.