Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh blocked from entering US

The US State Department has barred former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and members of his immediate family from entry into the United States.

The decision announced on Monday comes almost two years after Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea after he refused to concede defeat in a presidential election.

Jammeh ruled the tiny West African country for two decades. He lost a democratic election to Adama Barrow in December 2016.

He refused to step down, however, which prompted a military threat by the African Union and the West African regional body ECOWAS. He fled to Equatorial Guinea in January 2017.

The State Department said he is now being banned from entry under a category that applies to foreign government officials who are believed to have committed "significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights."

In addition to Jammeh, his wife Zineb, and their daughter Mariam and son Muhammad are also being blocked.

The Barrow government reported that Jammeh stole at least $50m from the country while in office.

Jammeh, who attended a military training course in Alabama, owns real estate 15 miles from Washington DC in Potomac, Maryland.

An estate previously owned by Calbert Cheaney, a former American basketball player, was sold to the Jammeh family trust in 2010 for $3.5m, according to public records. - Aljazeera