Gambian president elect Adama Barrow sits for an interview with the Associated Press at his residence in Yundum, Gambia, Saturday Dec. 3, 2016. Gambia’s newly elected president Barrow says he will free the country’s political prisoners, reverse the former administration’s decision to leave the International Criminal court and lead a transition government for only three years. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Barrow shocked at Jammeh’s squandering of Gambia’s money

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow said he is shocked at the amount of money former President Yahya Jammeh perfidiously stole from Gambians.

Jammeh took most of the money from the country’s reserves bank and from state institutions, notably, the country’s telecommunication company. whose fiber optic and international gateway services were exploited.

When Jammeh came to power after a military coup in 1994, his junta was sanctioned. He, however, managed to get funding from Taiwan. Since then, he claims his money was from “Allah’s Bank.”

Jammeh used to tell people that Allah was his World Bank, Barrow said, but even so, he was taken aback by the sums of money involved. “I never thought it was so serious: a sitting president running more than 80 bank accounts,” he said. “Now, Allah’s World Bank has been revealed.”

Jammeh amassed wealth for himself and his immediate loyalists, some of whom were deprived of all they got after they fall out of favor with him. He accuses them of corruption and economic crimes, jailing them for years.

Barrow has established a commission of inquiry into Jammeh’s assets. Gambian ministers alleged last year that Jammeh had siphoned off more than $50 million mostly meant for social security, the ports and telecoms, and left the country with more than a billion dollars in debt.

Jammeh, estimated to be worth some $1.2 billion dollars ruled the Gambia for 22-years. He has left Barrow with the challenge of fixing the damaged socio-economic situation of the impoverished West African nation.

Mr. Jammeh’s downfall was hailed as a David-and-Goliath victory for democracy in the Gambia, where he had ruled with brutality. But his departure to Equatorial Guinea led many of those who suffered human rights abuses during his regime to assume that he would never face a court.

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