BANJUL (Agencies)- The Gambia’s new president has claimed that the West African’s country’s resources appear to have been depleted before his predecessor Yahya Jammeh fled Sunday last night.
Adama Barrow told Senegalese radio station RFM: “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’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.
The unpredictable Jammeh, known for startling declarations like his claim that bananas and herbal rubs could cure AIDS, went into exile under mounting international pressure, with a wave to supporters as soldiers wept. He is now in Equatorial Guinea, home to Africa’s longest-serving ruler and not a state party to the International Criminal Court.
Jammeh’s dramatic about-face on his December election loss to Barrow, at first conceding and then challenging the vote, appeared to be the final straw for the international community, which had been alarmed by his moves in recent years to declare an Islamic republic and leave the Commonwealth and the ICC.