Gambians celebrate after former leader Jammeh leaves for exile

A West African regional force moved into the capital Credit: AP

Residents in the Gambia's capital have celebrated in the street following the departure of the country's former leader Yahya Jammeh, but there are concerns the former leader raided state coffers before he left.

Mr Jammeh's departure followed two days of negotiations and the threat of military action by a West African regional force.

On Sunday soldiers from that force were in the the capital city of Banjul and many revellers posed for photographs with them.

Senegalese army officials said the force, which also includes troops from Nigeria, Ghana and Mali, met no resistance as they advanced.

Mr Jammeh, who ruled the Gambia for 22 years, had refused to accept defeat to opposition challenger Adama Barrow in a December election.

Mr Barrow was sworn in as president at Gambia's embassy in neighbouring Senegal, but will now be able to take office following his predecessor's departure.

Yahya Jammeh delayed for two days but eventually flew into exile Credit: AP

Even amid the celebrations, however, some troubling details of Mr Jammeh's departure have emerged.

Speaking to radio station RFM in Senegal, where he is waiting to return to Gambia, Mr Barrow said that, upon initial inspection, it appeared the former leader had looted state resources.

"According to information we received, there is no money in the coffers," he said.

"It's what we have been told, but the day we actually take office, we will clarify all of it."

Mr Jammeh is thought to have withdrawn the equivalent of $11.5 million from state coffers before flying out of the country on Saturday.

At a press conference in the Senegalese capital, Barrow's special adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty confirmed that Mr Jammeh and his family had made off with state funds.

"The Gambia is in financial distress. The coffers are virtually empty. That is a state of fact," Mr Fatty said.

"It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia."

He also confirmed that a Chadian cargo plane had transported luxury goods out of the country on Mr Jammeh's behalf in his final hours in power, including an unknown number of vehicles.