Senegal seeks Gambia’s intervention in ending Casamance conflict
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
In what could be described as a volte-face, the president of the Republic of Senegal has appealed to his Gambian counterpart, President Yahya Jammeh to intervene in ending the decades long low-level Casamance civil conflict that has plagued the Southern Senegalese region since it started in the 1980s.
President Maitre Abdoulie Wade who paid a three-hour working visit to the Gambia Tuesday afternoon as part of efforts to bringing back peace and stability in the region, was speaking at the Coco Ocean Resort & Spa in Bijilo.
“The purpose of the visit is to seek President Jammeh’s support in bringing peace in Casamance by intervening especially in trying to convince the faction that is anti-peace,” Wade told a meeting that had in its presence journalists and officials of the two countries.
The Senegalese president, who described his impromptu Banjul visit as a brotherly one in view of the strategic relations between the two countries, appealed to President Jammeh to intervene in whatever it takes to end the rebellion through his experience, hinting that he has done his best to end the conflict.
“That is why I am here to seek President Jammeh’s support and I am appealing to him to intervene and do his best to ensure that the situation in Casamance is resolved. The negotiation started here [his visit] and shall be completed in Senegal,” stated Wade.
President Jammeh’s response
Responding President Wade’s appeal, the Gambian leader first expressed delight at receiving his brother in his second home, while assuring that only peace can prevail between The Gambia and Senegal.
Having negotiated many peace deals in the region, the Gambian leader was quick to assure his Senegalese counterpart of his commitment to the cause of ensuring peace in Casamance. He stressed that the longstanding mayhem in the Senegalese region is one that has affected both countries, reiterating his desire to pursue peace negotiations.
“What is more important is that we will stand to support this cause and ensure that peace prevails in Casamance and the region. Without peace there will be no development in The Gambia, Senegal and even in Guinea Bissau,” President Jammeh, who together with his Senegalese counterpart spoke in the local language [Wollof] assured.
However, President Jammeh urged his Senegalese counterpart to set up a small committee that is trustworthy and honest; a committee he said will work hand-in-glove with his own committee to pursue the negotiation of the peace process in Casamance.
“If we have a team that will speak the truth, then the problem will be solved and peace will prevail. After the month of Ramadan we will look into the issue to start the process,” he stated.
At Tuesday’s meeting both leaders also stressed the need for the two countries to collaborate in ensuring that neither of the two becomes a safe haven for dissidents that have broken the laws in the two nations.
“What I want to assure you is that nobody will commit bad thing in Senegal and get a safe haven in the Gambia,” President Jammeh assured Wade, while urging the two countries to do that in the interest of peace.
The Gambian leader concluded by reiterating his commitment to the proposal placed before him by his Senegalese counterpart; a pledge that is expected to go a long way in ending the decades long conflict.
The Casamance Conflict is a low-level civil war that has been waged between the Government of Senegal and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) since the 1980s over the question of independence for the Southern Senegalese region. All attempts to resolve the conflict have so far been futile.
Photos by Nfamara Drammeh
Author: Hatab Fadera