Gambia’s ex-president Yahya Jammeh flew into exile last year, leaving a fleet of presidential planes and luxury cars as a memento of more than two decades in power. Now the government is looking to sell the former autocrat’s assets to raise millions of dollars for health and education projects in the dirt-poor nation.
Five planes and 30 luxury cars including Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, as well as four plots of land in some of the country’s finest tourist areas, are to be auctioned online. On the tarmac of Banjul airport, a Boeing 727, a Bombardier Challenger 601 and a Soviet-era Ilyushin Il-62M painted with the words “Republic of the Gambia” are now covered by a thin layer of dust.
Jammeh’s old planes — including two crop dusters whose green paint is gradually becoming veiled — can be seen from the airport’s restaurant. In the garage of the presidential office, two armour-plated Hummers share the space with five Rolls-Royces, one Bentley, BMWs, pickup trucks, Mercedes and a Mini Cooper with a plate bearing the initials “MYJ” — for Mariam Yahya Jammeh, the daughter of the former president.
The West African state hopes to raise 10 million dollars (8.5 million euros) from the sale, Amadou Sanneh, the finance minister, told parliament last year. “What we are doing as a government now is to design a web portal where all the assets would be posted,” Lamin Camara, permanent secretary for the ministry of finances, told AFP. A date for the sale is yet to be decided. Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marred by accusations of rampant corruption and human rights abuses.
The strongman was ousted when a coalition fronted by Adama Barrow won elections in December 2016. After refusing to step down, he flew into exile in Equatorial Guinea. “As far as we are concerned, these vehicles, these properties were purchased with state resources. They rightly belong to the state,” Abubacarr Tambadou, the justice minister, said.
Photo: AFP / CLAIRE BARGELES