By Mustapha Darboe
The Gambia government has denied claims that it has violated an agreement reached between the UN and Ecowas over the fate of the properties of former President Yahya Jammeh.
On January 21, Ecowas halted military operations in The Gambia in honour of a purported 14-point agreement made with Jammeh part of which deals with the fate of his assets.
The specific clause in the agreement reads: “Ecowas, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to prevent the seizure of assets and properties lawfully belonging to former President Jammeh or his family and those of his cabinet members, government officials and party supporters, as guaranteed under the Constitution and other Laws of The Gambia.”
Following the recent court freezing of the assets of Jammeh, supporters of the former president said the actions were in violation of the deal Jammeh reached with the regional authorities and the UN.
However Demba Jawo, spokesperson of Gambia government and Minister of Information, said the freezing of the assets of Jammeh was meant to ascertain if they lawfully belong to him and not to illegally take them from him.
“That section says assets lawfully belonging to the former president. So the government has not taken over his properties just yet. The injunction was meant to make it impossible for anyone to use them until it is confirmed that the president acquired them lawfully,” Jawo said.
He added: “Government is just launching an inquiry into his assets, until they can determine that the assets were lawfully acquired or not. That was why the court order was sought to freeze them. If they were found to have been lawfully belonging to him, they will be returned.”
Meanwhile Kouider Zerrouk, the spokesperson of Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the West Africa representative for the United Nations secretary general was also contacted over the matter. However the UN man referred The Standard to the agreement. .
“There was a communiqué issued by the African Union, Ecowas and the UN about the agreement that has been reached with Jammeh. Everything is in there,” he said.
Further asked whether the agreement is legally binding on all parties to it, the UN man said: “The Gambia is a sovereign state and we can’t tell them what to do.”
Two weeks ago, Justice Minister Tambadou said the move to seek a freeze on Jammeh’s assets was prompted by allegations that Jammeh is connected with the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dalasis from public accounts specifically from the SSFHC and international call termination fees.
Mai Fatty, the Interior Minister, denied at the time that there was any deal between them and the regional institution over Jammeh’s fate.