Gambia's Jammeh 'allowed to keep' luxury car collection
Banjul (Gambia) (AFP) - Gambian ex-president Yahya Jammeh will be allowed to keep his collection of 13 luxury cars and fly them out to his exiled home in Equatorial Guinea, a spokesman for new president Adama Barrow said Tuesday.
Barrow's spokesman confirmed to AFP an agreement had been struck to facilitate Jammeh's exit on Saturday in order to end a weeks-long impasse caused by the ex-leader's refusal to recognise Barrow's election victory.
"What is very clear is that arrangements were made and the government was fully prepared and supportive of ex-president Jammeh to leave and as a result they found it is better to leave with all his properties instead of coming down and checking properties," spokesman Halifa Sallah told AFP.
An airport source who saw the cargo being prepared on Saturday night when Jammeh flew out of the country said "two Rolls Royce and one (Mercedes) Benz" were loaded onto a Chadian cargo plane, while others await shipment.
The spokesman added that the decision was also aimed at minimising return visits by Jammeh. "He leaves with all his properties so he is not coming up and down to check," Sallah said.
Another Barrow spokesman had alluded angrily to the luxury cars on Sunday, but did not say that the new president had agreed that Jammeh could leave with them.
As of Tuesday, the source added, "10 cars" were still earmarked for future shipment, which diplomats and others familiar with the matter confirmed included a Bentley, Land Rovers, a red Mini Cooper, and another Mercedes.
"No information or orders have been given by this new government to stop shipping the cars," the airport source told AFP.
He described Jammeh's entourage as struggling between the choice of two larger Bentleys or three smaller cars, eventually opting for the Mercedes and the Rolls Royces on the night he left the country.
"They were trying to check which one fits. If they took the bigger cars they could only take two," he said.
The news is likely to anger Gambians who have also learnt Jammeh took off with $11 million of state funds, leaving the coffers nearly empty.
An "entry-level" Rolls Royce costs $250,000, and most Gambians live on less than $2 a day.