The United States on Monday said it would forbid entry into the country of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh and his family over corruption during his 22-year rule.
Under a US law that bans foreign officials involved in “significant” corruption or human rights abuses, the State Department said it was blacklisting Jammeh as well as his wife Zineb Jammeh, and his daughter and son.
Jammeh trained at a military base in Alabama before seizing power in 1994 and while president bought a mansion in the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland, from basketball star Calbert Cheaney, according to reports at the time.
“The United States is committed to combating corruption, increasing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and promoting good governance globally,” the State Department said in a statement.
“The United States stands with the government of The Gambia, its people and civil society in support of The Gambia’s transition towards greater transparency, accountability and democratic governance, for the benefit of all Gambians,” it said.
Jammeh ruled with an iron fist over The Gambia, the smallest land-based country in Africa, but he unexpectedly lost an election in December 2016 to the opposition leader, Adama Barrow.
Jammeh fled the next month into self-imposed exile after his attempts to hold on to power brought intervention from neighbouring countries.
Barrow, now the president, has championed a truth panel modelled on post-apartheid South Africa to shed light on executions, torture, rape and other crimes under Jammeh’s rule.