Banjul (Gambia) (AFP) – The Gambia has revoked the diplomatic passports of ex-leader Yahya Jammeh and his associates, the foreign ministry said Thursday, as the new government pursues former regime figures it believes embezzled state funds.
Jammeh plundered an estimated $50 million before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea in January after 22 years in power, the country’s justice minister announced in May, promising a commission would trace the money.
The Gambian government revoked “the diplomatic passports of members of the former regime and this includes President Yahya Jammeh, his wife Zeinab Jammeh and cabinet ministers,” ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Saikou Ceesay told AFP.
“The list consists of 271 people who no longer enjoy diplomatic immunities. They should have returned their passports when they ceased to be Gambian diplomats,” Ceesay added.
The government already froze Jammeh and his associates’ assets in May and said it had begun tracking down bank accounts and businesses linked to the former strongman.
Jammeh ran everything from bakeries to farms during his long tenure and was regularly accused of taking over successful businesses for his own gain, as well as overseeing widespread rights abuses by his security forces, according to the new government.
He only left the country under threat of a west African military intervention after losing to President Adama Barrow in a December election and refusing for weeks to acknowledge the result.
Barrow said in an interview with AFP last month that although Jammeh was now in Equatorial Guinea, which is not a member state of the International Criminal Court, he believed the former leader would one day find himself in court.
“There are people who committed atrocities and faced justice. They were extradited to face justice. It can also happen with Jammeh,” he said.