Gambia’s exiled President Yahya Jammeh has been visited on his new Kanilai Farms by his host autocratic ruler, Theodore Obiang, who has given him a safe haven in the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea.
Jammeh who lost elections in December 2016 first conceded defeat said he was going to remain in The Gambia and retire on his farm, in a village six miles from the border with neighboring Senegal’s southern Casamance region.
The longstanding ruler was forced to flee the country after rescinding his shocking acceptance of the results that forced regional troops to be deployed to ousted him and enforce the will of the people.
Since coming to power as a young Lieutenant in a coup, Jammeh had maintained the “back to the land” slogan, urging young people to turn to agriculture to address the nation’s unemployment crisis.
Agriculture had declined as the country’s main economic backbone. Millions that were spent in the sector were mismanaged with Jammeh being the minister for the most part.
His last Vision 2016 propaganda to make the country self-reliant on food failed and could not stop the importation of rice into the mainly peanut exporting nation.
Jammeh’s “eat what you grow and grow what you eat” campaign is now in exile with him in Equatorial Guinea, where Obiang has given him a virgin land to farm on and a presidential mansion to dwell.
Jammeh had a monopoly over businesses, including in agriculture during his rule. His Kanilai Farms forcefully took over hundreds of fertile farm lands across the country and sold livestock products at prices that undermine the sustainability of other agro-based businesses.
Obiang and Jammeh are human rights abusers. While Equatorial Guinea is not a member of the International Criminal Court, Jammeh attempted to pull the Gambia from the international tribunal, a decision that the new government of Adama Barrow quickly reversed.
Corruption, poverty and repression continue to plague Equatorial Guinea under Mr. Obiang, who killed his uncle in a coup to come to power in 1979. Vast oil revenue fund lavish lifestyles for the president and his political allies at the expense of poor 1.2 million people in the nation.
Just like under Jammeh, who embezzled billions during his reign, mismanagement of public funds and credible allegations of high-level corruption persist, as do other serious abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention, and unfair trials, says Human Rights Watch.
Obiang’s eldest son, his Vice President and possible successor, Teodorin, was indicted in France on money-laundering charges.
The United States, where Jammeh and Obiang are neighbors in Potomac, agreed to settle with Teodorin in a separate case seizing his $30 million mansion in California and some assets. Jammeh’s mansion is not seized and is being occupied by his demoralized wife, Zineb.
The U.S. Justice Department says the Obiang’s seized assets would be used to benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea.