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Exiled former President of The Gambia 'stole $11.4m' from state coffers

Monday January 23, 2017 12:04 PM, IANS

Banjul: Over $11.4 million were "stolen" from The Gambia's state coffers by long-time leader Yahya Jammeh who went into exile on Saturday, an adviser to President Adama Barrow has said.

In his final weeks in power, the former President, who ruled for 22 years, plundered the state coffers and shipped out luxury vehicles by cargo plane, the Guardian quoted Mai Ahmad Fatty as saying on Sunday.

"The coffers are virtually empty. It has been confirmed by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia," he said.

Fatty said luxury items were loaded on to a Chadian cargo plane on Friday night. Financial experts were trying to evaluate the exact loss, the BBC reported.

The former ruler had refused to accept election results but finally left after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of military intervention.

West African troops on Sunday entered the Gambian capital of Banjul to prepare for President Adama Barrow's arrival.

Hundreds greeted the force's approach to State House, cheering and dancing, while some people grabbed soldiers to take selfies.

The new President remained in neighbouring Senegal, where he took the oath of office on Thursday because of concerns for his safety.

The Senegalese general leading the joint force from five African nations said they were controlling "strategic points to ensure the safety of the population and facilitate Barrow's assumption of his role".

Officials at The Gambia's main airport had been told not to let any of Jammeh's belongings leave the country, Fatty said.

According to reports, many of Jammeh's goods were in Guinea where he had stopped on his journey into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

According to the BBC, the former leader had initially accepted Barrow's election win on December 1 last year, but later alleged "irregularities" and called for a fresh vote.

The move was internationally condemned and the UN-backed Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) issued an ultimatum for him to quit or be removed by force.

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