As the United Nations backs The Gambia’s new coalition government, a senior member of the new government’s leadership said outgoing President Yahya Jammeh must not be trusted.
Fatoumata Tambajang, a former UN staffer and lead mediator in the unity talks that formed the coalition that defeated Jammeh in the December 1 polls said Jammeh must be allowed near Kanilai or he may escape.
“He can’t leave. If he leaves, he’s going to escape us,” she said. “We are stopping him from leaving. We are negotiating. He said he wants to go to Kanilai. Any day he tells us he wants to go abroad, then we say no. It’s the presidential prerogative.”
Jammeh lost elections last week and said he will retire to his farm in his home village Kanilai, close to the border with volatile southern Senegal region of Casamance, where he would be a farmer. Jammeh has been named as one of the sponsors of a low-level crisis in Casamance, in which he provided rebel troops with logistics and Iranian weapons.
Rumors of coups were rife for a Jammeh comeback and the UN warned any such attempt will be met with resistance from the international community.
“We don’t trust him. The longer we leave him, the more possibilities he has to leave the country, to escape from the country and to even do an insurgency. He is capable. The man is capable. In Kanilai, he has bunkers. I have reliable sources that say that he has bunkers. I have been reliably informed that he has treasure in Kanilai, he’s sitting on treasure, on gold as they say,” said Tambajang.
**CORRECTION: A previous version of this article described Ms. Fatoumata Tambajang as a UN diplomat. Ms. Tambajang was an official of the UNDP and was former minister of health in President Jammeh’s cabinet.