Gambia is selling several planes and a fleet of luxury cars bought by former president Yahya Jammeh as it seeks to reduce a mountain of crippling debt contracted during the authoritarian leader’s decades-long rule.
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.
While most of his people struggled in poverty under one of West Africa’s most oppressive regimes, Jammeh acquired vast wealth, much of which 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 Reuters. “My ministry will soon start publicising the sales.”
The International Monetary Fund warned Gambia on Wednesday against any new borrowing after its debt stock reached 130 percent 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, who led a recent IMF mission to Gambia.
“It could be a lot of liability.”