Gambia’s President Adama Barrow said former ruler Yahya Jammeh has ransacked the country’s treasury leaving less than US$1 before he went to exile in Equatorial Guinea.
The former authoritarian ruler also airlifted premium vehicles and other luxuries out of the West African nation on Saturday.
“There is no money in the coffers. It’s what we have been told, but the day we actually take office, I will take a look at all the documents and evidence and we will clarify all of it,” President Barrow said.
But even as Jammeh left the country insolvent, he was given an extraordinary set of assurances from the international community, which were rejected ‘outright’ by President Barrow.
Barrow promised to look into the matter as soon as he returns to Banjul.
Regional forces have arrived in Banjul, the Gambia’s capital ahead of Barrow’s return to secure the presidential residence and stabilize the situation in the country.
The new government is waking up to challenges ahead after this weekend’s dramatic finish to Gambia’s first-ever peaceful democratic transition.
Chief among them: reconciling a population’s desire for justice for alleged abuses committed by the former regime with maintaining peace in a country whose institutions were for 22 years dominated by one man.
Gambia is one of the world’s poorest nations, with an economy valued at less than $1 billion. Thousands of young Gambians try to migrate to Europe each year in search of jobs and a better future.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional reporting from Wall Street Journal, Reuters, VOA, AP)