Gambia Selling Properties Of Former President To Reduce Debt

To reduce a mountain of their crippling debt, Gambia is selling several planes and a fleet of luxury cars bought by former president Yahya Jammeh.

The debt was contracted during the authoritarian leader’s decades-long rule. While most of his people struggled in poverty under one of West Africa’s most oppressive regimes, Jammeh acquired vast wealth.

Much of the wealth he packed into planes and carried with him into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

However, a fleet of vehicles, including several Rolls-Royces with Jammeh’s name embroidered in their red leather headrests, were left behind on the tarmac.

“The fleet of expensive vehicles at State House and the three planes bought by former president Yahya Jammeh have been put on sale,” Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh told the Media .

“My ministry will soon start publicising the sales.”

Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 coup, fled Gambia early last year as West African neighbours were poised for military intervention to topple him after he refused to step down following an election loss to current President Adama Barrow.

The International Monetary Fund warned Gambia on Wednesday against any new borrowing after its debt stock reached 130 per cent of gross domestic product at the end of last year.

Most of that debt was contracted under Jammeh, either through borrowing or the government’s taking on the liabilities of state-owned enterprises.

“Let me be very clear … it may even go higher because we have not opened the books of the state-owned enterprises,” said Jaroslaw Wieczorek.

Since taking office and discovering government coffers were largely empty, Barrow’s administration has worked to disentangle Gambia’s state finances from Jammeh’s sprawling personal business empire.

Sanneh said last year that around 100 million dollars – more than a third of the government’s annual budget – had been siphoned from state firms.

Barrow set up a commission that visited Jammeh’s many properties to establish an inventory of his possessions with the aim of recovering looted assets.

One estate boasts a mosque, jungle warfare training camp and a vast private safari park .

Investigators have also sought to establish what wealth Jammeh may have stashed abroad.

The process has faced opposition from Jammeh’s political party and supporters, who have accused Barrow’s government of carrying out a witchhunt against the ex-president.

Gambian Military Arrests Generals On Exile

The Gambia army has disclosed that the Military authorities in Gambia arrested two of ex-strongman Yahya Jammeh’s generals after they returned unexpectedly from exile over the weekend.

According to a statement by the army, Umpa Mendy, Jammeh’s principal protection officer, and the former head of the State Guards Battalion Ansumana Tamba had both accompanied the former leader into exile.

However, the army statement, said they flew back into Gambia on Sunday.

“They were arrested at their respective homes … and are currently detained at the Yundum Military Barracks, where they are helping the military police with their investigations,” the army said.

The army did not say why the two men returned to Gambia or on what charges they had been arrested.

Gambia’s current President Adama Barrow was sworn in Feb 18, 2017 as a West African regional intervention force closed in on the capital Banjul forcing Jammeh, who had refused to accept his defeat in elections, to flee to Equatorial Guinea.

Barrow is still seeking to assert control following the end of 22 years of Jammeh’s authoritarian rule under which the military served as a key pillar of a regime notorious for jailing and torturing political opponents.

The new government has replaced or dismissed a number of senior military officers, some of them suspected of being members of a group called the Jungulars, which many Gambians say carried out killings on behalf of the government.

However, the army still contains many former supporters of Jammeh.

Barrow’s allies have repeatedly warned of the possibility that exiled officers were working to undermine the new government from abroad.

 

Jammeh’s Spy Chief Charged With Murder

Head of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency and the chief spy, under exiled Yahya Jammeh was on Thursday charged before a Banjul court for the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention in 2016.

Yankuba Badjie and the Director of Operations, Sheikh Jeng, along with eight other officers were charged.

The charges were part of attempts by President Adama Barrow to re-establish democracy in the small West African nation.

Barrow had released dozens of opposition activists from prison since he took office on Jan. 19, replacing Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the Islamic republic for the last 22 years with an iron fist.

Jammeh caused weeks of political impasse by refusing to accept the result of the December presidential election before going into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Badjie took over at the intelligence agency in 2013, with Jeng as his deputy.

During their tenure, the intelligence agency carried out kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, torture, killings and rape, according to international human rights activists.

Dogara Commends Buhari, ECOWAS Leaders Over Gambia

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara has commended President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the Economic Community of West African States for the role they played in averting major political crisis in the Gambia.
In a statement issued on Sunday, by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan,  Dogara, said President  Buhari and his colleagues have averted a major political crisis that could have engulfed not only the Gambia but the entire West African sub region.
The speaker said that the leaders masterfully deployed diplomacy backed with potential military action to compell former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh to relinquish power to President Adama Barrow.
 “The leaders have demonstrated their readiness and strong resolve to defend democracy on the continent.”
“This would send strong signal to the world that democracy has come to stay in Africa. There is no room any longer for tyrants and dictators in the continent”, he said.
The  speaker maintained that inspite of any misgivings about democracy and it’s impact on the lives of the people, it still remains the best form of government and that “The will of the people and the consent of the governed  remains the only  basis of any government.”
Dogara said that the task ahead of African leaders is to fashion ways of making the system better  to deliver the greatest good to the greater number of people in order to enthrone good government, defeat poverty, engender patriotism and trust in the democratic system of government.

Jammeh Leaves Banjul Today into Exile

Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh will now leave Banjul on Saturday with President Alpha Conde of Guinea, to begin a new life in exile.

This followed Friday’s final peace move by Conde and Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

The two West African leaders travelled to Banjul to persuade the long ruling Jammeh to leave peacefully before West African forces pounced on him.

In a statement issued on state TV Friday night, Jammeh announced that he was stepping down, a superfluous announcement as he was already no more the leader, having been denied recognition by the world.

All indications are that Jammeh will be going into exile in Guinea.

A senior adviser to new President Adama Barrow said talks to finalise the exile deal were holding up his exit.

“I can assure you that he has agreed to leave,” Mai Ahmad Fatty, Barrow’s special advisor, told Reuters in Senegal’s capital Dakar. He could not say where Jammeh would go into exile.

President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow had earlier confirmed Yahya Jammeh’s stepping down.

Barrow, on his twitter handle on Friday, @adama_barrow said: “I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down.

“He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia.”

Barrow on Thursday took the oath of office as Gambia’s new president.

He was sworn-in about 5p.m. Senegalese time at the Gambian High Commission in Dakar, Senegal.

Barrow succeeded Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the Dec. 1 presidential election and refused to vacate office when his term expired midnight on Thursday.

Gambia’s Chief of Defence, Ousman Badjie, on Friday pledged loyalty to President Barrow.

“West African troops that crossed from neighbouring Senegal into Gambia to help unseat Jammeh would be welcomed “with a cup of tea,’’ said Badjie.

ECOWAS armies halted Operation Restore Democracy aimed at installing the country’s new president, Adama Barrow, on Thursday so regional leaders could make one last attempt to convince long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh to step aside.

In Dakar, the Nigerian force Commander, Operation Restore Democracy, Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, said the ECOWAS forces will not let down their guard, inspite of negotiations for the former Gambian president, Alhaji Yahaya Jammeh to leave office.

He said the troops are awaiting briefing by the political leaders.

Yusuf made the statement while briefing newsmen in Dakar, on Friday.

“Even if he quits we are not letting down our guard, our mandate is to restore peace in Gambia.

“We have been on standby, and the troops are still on a very high alert, depending on the outcome of political negotiations.

“We are not letting down our guard; our mandate is to restore democracy in Gambia,’’ Yusuf said.

Yusuf added that the mandate given to them was to restore peace and nothing else.

He promised to carry out his responsibilities professionally while waiting for further directive from the political masters.

Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, initially conceded defeat to Barrow following a Dec. 1 election before back-tracking, saying the vote was flawed.

NAN

Gambia’s Jammeh Finally Steps Down

Defeated leader of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has finally agreed to step down a day after President-elect, Adama Barrow was sworn in as the President of the tiny West African country.

Mr. Jammeh who dissolved his cabinet on Thursday after Barrow’s inauguration, has also agreed to depart the tiny West African country.

Jammeh’s decision to stand down from the number one position in the country was announced on micro blogging site, Twitter on Friday by the new President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow.

“I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia“, Barrow tweeted.

Meanwhile, Mr. Barrow was sworn in on Thursday, days after seeking shelter in Dakar with incumbent Yahya Jammeh still refusing to step down after losing the December 2016 Presidential election.

The new President of The Gambia took the oath of office in the country’s embassy in Senegal on Thursday, January 19.

As at the time of filing this report, Yahya Jammeh was yet to make a statement as regards Barrow’s announcement.

Gambia’s Jammeh Insists He Won’t Hand Over Power

President Yahya Jammeh on Thursday in Banjul reiterated his stand that he would not step down as Gambian leader when his mandate ends on Wednesday.

The information ministry said in a statement read on national television that Jammeh was planning to remain in office until the Supreme Court decides on a petition he filed.

Jammeh is challenging the result of the Dec. 1 presidential election he lost to Adama Barrow.

Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known before he announced his candidacy, meanwhile has also reiterated he is planning to take office on Jan. 19, as scheduled.

Earlier this week, Gambia’s dysfunctional Supreme Court adjourned hearing Jammeh’s petition to Monday, since only one of a required minimum of five judges were present.

Experts however believe it will be highly unlikely that four additional judges will be present on Monday.

This is because the Supreme Court has not been operational since Jammeh fired several of the court’s judges in mid-2016.

All other eligible Court of Appeal judges left the country after the December election.

Observers fear that delays to the planned hand-over of power could lead to violence as Gambia has been in a political lockdown since Jammeh refused to accept the result.

Meanwhile, some West African leaders, including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, are expected to arrive in Gambia to convince Jammeh to respect the constitution and hand over the presidency.

NAN

Gambian Electoral Commission Chairman Flees Country

The Chairman of the Gambian Electoral Commission has fled the country following threats to his life, his nephew said on Tuesday.

Alieu Momar Njai had declared Adama Barrow the winner of the Dec. 1 presidential election, but President Yahya Jammeh has refused to relinquish power, challenging the election results in court.

Modou Njai told journalists that his uncle had left the country because of the threats.

“He was not willing to leave but the family had to put pressure on him.

“I understand that he is currently outside Gambia,’’ he said.

Security forces had earlier occupied the office of the electoral commission and denied staff access for weeks, but have since left the premises.

Mr. Barrow said on Monday that he would take power on Jan. 19 as mandated by the constitution, in spite of Mr. Jammeh’s court challenge.

After over two decades in power, Mr. Jammeh, 51, lost the election to Mr. Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known even in Gambia before he announced his candidacy.

Gambia Authorities Shut Independent Radio Station

Popular independent Gambian radio station Teranga FM was Sunday ordered to cease operations by national security agents for unspecified reasons, a security source and staff member said.

The station, which translates news from Gambian papers into local languages, has previously been silenced and in 2015 its manager was slapped with sedition and “publication of false news” charges for privately sharing a provocative photo of President Yahya Jammeh.

“Four National Intelligence Agency operatives and one police officer in uniform came to the radio station this afternoon (Sunday) around 2:30 pm and told us to stop broadcasting,” a staff member told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“They said they have been ordered by the director general of NIA, Yankuba Badjie, to tell us to stop broadcasting with immediate effect. We asked them the reason for their action, but they said they are only acting on executive orders and do not know the reason why the radio should stop broadcasting,” he added.

A security source said no one had been arrested but could not say why the radio station was ordered off the air.

“We only asked them to stop broadcasting and they cooperated with us. They have stopped broadcasting since in the afternoon,” the source told AFP.

The radio station was not broadcasting Sunday evening, according to an AFP correspondent.

Station manager Alagie Ceesay was arrested by the country’s secret police in July 2015 on charges of sedition and “publication of false news” relating to allegations that he distributed images by mobile phone of a gun pointed at a picture of Jammeh.

Ceesay escaped from hospital where he was being treated in mid-April last year while on trial for sedition.

Jammeh, who has ruled the small west African country with an iron fist since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994, lost December’s presidential election but has rejected the results and filed a court challenge.

He is regularly accused of rights abuses and repression of the media.

The Gambia ranked 145 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index, pointing to “a climate of terror around anything remotely to do with journalism”.

ECOWAS Leaders Have Declared War On Us – Jammeh

President Yahya Jammeh says the West African community’s decision to send troops into The Gambia to force him to accept defeat in last month’s presidential election, is “a declaration of war”.
Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS deployed troops to The Gambia on Thursday after Jammeh said he would not accept the results of December’s election, in which he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow.
In a New Year’s message broadcast on Saturday, Jammeh said the “blatant and one-sided” approach of ECOWAS, “disqualified it from providing mediation services”.
“Let me make very clear, we are ready to defend this country against any aggression,” Jammeh said, adding that if ECOWAS did not back down “the impasse will continue with the risk of escalation into a military confrontation”.
He added, “What we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their president in a free and fair election.”

After more than two decades in power, Jammeh, 51, lost a December 1 election to Barrow, a former real-estate agent.
After initially accepting the result, Jammeh later rejected it, alleging irregularities, and filed a petition to the Supreme Court which is due to be reviewed on January 10.
Barrow has insisted he will take office nine days later, as planned, with ECOWAS leaders set to attend the ceremony.
Earlier this month ECOWAS said it would stage a military intervention, led by neighbouring Senegal, if Jammeh failed to step down and set a deadline of January 19, the day of Barrow’s planned inauguration.
The UN Security Council has called on Jammeh to “fully respect” the election results and ensure Barrow’s safety.
The electoral commission said Barrow obtained 222,708 votes (43.3 percent) compared with Jammeh’s 208,487 (39.6 percent).
Jammeh has questioned the validity of the count after the electoral commission changed some results, even though it insists the outcome was not affected.

Buhari Sets Up Gambia Mediation Team

President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a Mediation Support Team to assist him in resolving the political impasse in Gambia.
The MST, headed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, will work with the team of the co-mediator, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana.
Buhari and Mahama were mandated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resolve the Gambian logjam.
Their mediation was one of the outcomes of the just-concluded ECOWAS Summit held on December 17, 2016 in Abuja.
The summit also listed the terms of reference to include ensuring the safety of the President-elect, Adama Barrow, the political leaders and the entire population; upholding the result of the Presidential election held on December 1, 2016 and ensuring that the President-elect is sworn into office on January 19, 2017, in conformity with the constitution of the country.
The Onyeama MST has begun immediate consultations with leaders in the sub-region as well as with international partners, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media said today.
The main task of the Mediation Support Team is to undertake the first phase of the preparatory and support work that would lead to a high level meeting of the mediator, President Buhari, and the stakeholders.
“Buhari remains optimistic that a peaceful resolution of the problem, in line with the laws and the constitution of The Gambia, is possible before the January 19, 2017 inauguration date of the new president”, Shehu said.