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Published: Mon, January 23, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Gambia's old leader emptied coffers, shipped out luxury cars

Gambia's old leader emptied coffers, shipped out luxury cars

Gambia's capital is awaiting the arrival of the country's new leader and an era of democracy, hours after the authoritarian ruler flew of 22 years flew into exile with an extraordinary set of assurances from the global community.

Meantime, the man who won the Gambian presidential election, Adama Barrow, has been sworn in as president in neighbouring Senegal, and has been recognised as the new president by the worldwide community.

The former president left Banjul on Saturday to go into exile after he was pressurised by the ECOWAS to rescind his earlier decision not to accept the outcome of December 1 presidential election, which saw him losing to the opposition candidate, Adama Bbarrow.

The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, pledged to remove Jammeh by force if he did not step down.

"We will look for arms caches and detect mercenaries, so that we can restore calm", said Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS commission, explaining to reporters overnight the new phase of the military operation.

Mr Barrow, a political novice, won the elections to end the over two-decades-old grip on power by Mr Jammeh.

Barrow also promised Gambians he was ready to operate a transparent and all-inclusive administration.

They also committed to work with the current government to prevent the seizure of assets and property lawfully belonging to Jammeh or his family and those of his cabinet members, government officials and party supporters. He also said he would improve Gambia's relationships with the worldwide community, rejoin the Commonwealth of former British-ruled states and the global Criminal Court. "I was very shocked to learn from Facebook that the document we had rejected was already posted at the websites of both Ecowas and the AU", he said.

Troops from regional powers gathered at the border, prepared to take military action if Jammeh did not step down, and global pressure against him mounted.

Rights groups accuse him of jailing, torturing and killing his political opponents while acquiring a vast fortune - including luxury cars and an estate in the United States - as most of his people remained impoverished.

"The will of the people has come to be - at last", said Isatou Touray, a key official in the government-in-waiting.

According to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), about 45,000 Gambians, mainly children, had fled to Senegal since January 1.

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