Budgetary pressure forced dictator Jammeh to fire three ministers and merged departments.
BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh fired three government ministers in a department reshuffle on Wednesday, according to a statement, another unexpected turn for the tiny West African country.
Minister of Fisheries Lamin Nyabally, Energy Minister Edward Sanneh and Minister of Presidential Affairs Yam Keita were all released from their posts after some departments were merged, the state house communique said.
The ministries of energy and petroleum, previously two separate entities, were joined. The ministry of fisheries was integrated into the ministry of environment, water, resources, park and wildlife and climate change, while the Department of forestry was wrapped into the office of the president.
The tiny West African nation of less than 2 million people has been ruled by Jammeh since 1994, when the then 29-year-old seized power in a bloodless coup.
The country’s economy faces serious risks from a worsening budget, rising inflation and tight interest rates, the IMF said last year.
The European Union temporarily withheld aid money to the country in 2014 over its poor human rights record. Gambia, whose main industries are agriculture and tourism, ranks 165 out of 187 countries on the U.N. development index.
The controversial leader, who said in 2007 he had found a herbal cure for AIDS, was re-elected in 2011 with 72 percent of the vote. He once told a reporter he could rule for “a billion years” and has scrapped term limits from the constitution.
(Reporting by Pap Saine, writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by David Gregorio)