Gambia’s ex-leader diverted money meant for youth entrepreneurs

Gambia’s ex-leader diverted money meant for youth entrepreneurs

Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh, who for long claimed to be a supporter of his country’s youths, used a scheme to steer funds meant for young entrepreneurs his way.

At least $1 million (D44 million dalasis) given to the Gambia’s government by a former ally, Taiwan meant to create jobs for the youths was squandered by Mr. Jammeh.

Jammeh’s former senior aide and Cabinet Secretary Nuha Touray said the former self-serving ruler withdrew all of the money a week after Taiwan’s government deposited the funds.

A majority of Gambian youths were desperately looking for jobs in the country, leading to a mass exodus to Europe. Hundreds of Gambians have died to attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

Jammeh severed ties with Taiwan in 2013 after the checkbook diplomacy went sour. Taiwan had refused to give Jammeh’s administration $10 million it had requested.

Taiwan had funded Jammeh since he came to power in a coup in 1994. It was the only country funding his regime that was facing international sanctions.

Jammeh was defeated in the election last year after he resumed relations with the mainland China. He is now being investigated for stealing hundreds of millions from the small country by the new government of Adama Barrow.

Barrow’s government has decided to stick with China, although Taiwan has made informal attempts to contact the new administration in a bid to reverse Jammeh’s decision.

The Barrow administration has reversed some of Jammeh’s controversial unilateral decisions but returning to diplomatic relations with Taiwan is not one of them.

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