Defeated Leader Steals $11.4M From Own Country

Yahya Jammeh leaves Gambia in 'financial distress'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 12:03 AM CST
People cheer as ECOWAS Senegalese troops take position outside the state house in the Gambian capital, Banjul, Sunday Jan. 22, 2017.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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(Newser) – Defeated Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh flew into exile in Equatorial Guinea over the weekend, giving his country's political crisis a peaceful end but apparently taking much of the country's wealth with him. A spokesman for President Adama Barrow says it appears Jammeh, who ruled the West African nation for 22 years, looted the nation's coffers in his final weeks in power, leaving the country in "financial distress," the BBC reports. The Washington Post quotes a rep for new president Adama Barrow as alleging Jammeh stole $11.4 million over the last two weeks. Luxury cars and other items were seen being loaded onto a cargo plane the night Jammeh flew out of the country.

Jammeh, who refused to accept the results of December's election until troops from other West African countries stepped in, left the country under what critics are calling an overly generous deal that promises "no seizure of his assets, no witch-hunts, and he can be back to the country at any time," Al Jazeera reports. Despite the apparent looting, people outside the State House in the capital, Banjul, celebrated and took selfies with Senegalese troops as they secured the area. "We are free," 35-year-old food seller Isatou Toure tells Reuters. "Everyone is so happy that man is gone." (Read more Gambia stories.)

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