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Yahya Jammeh makes off with millions, luxury vehicles

The former Gambian president went into exile in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday after ruling the Gambia for 22 years.

FILE: Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Gambian officials say the central bank is intact after reports that former president Yahya Jammeh took $11 million from state coffers before leaving the country.

Jammeh went into exile in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday after ruling the Gambia for 22 years.

A West African regional force had been launched to remove him but paused to allow for negotiations mediated by Guinean President Alpha Conde and President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

Diplomats and government sources say Jammeh used that time to try to negotiate immunity from prosecution for alleged abuses and, according to an advisor to Barrow, also loaded up a cargo plane with luxury goods.

Jammeh denied allegations of torture and killing opponents while in power. But his repressive rule and a flagging economy saw thousands flee across the Sahara and Mediterranean to Europe each year.

He's believed to have acquired a vast fortune, including a fleet of Rolls-Royces and an estate in a wealthy suburb of Washington during his rule.
While Jammeh left aboard a jet with Conde late on Saturday, two other planes - a Mauritanian aircraft and a cargo plane from Chad - were being prepared for departure on the tarmac, fuelling speculation over their purpose.

It is unclear whether any deal was agreed. Barrow, who is in neighboring Senegal where he is waiting to return to Gambia, denied on Sunday that Jammeh had been offered immunity from prosecution.

Barrow's spokesman Halifa Salah declined to comment further at a news conference.

West African troops are securing the country's presidential palace in preparation for President Adama Barrow's arrival.

Additional reporting by Reuters.