Banjul — The Salifou Sadio faction of the southern Senegalese separatist MFDC movement has imposed an embargo on the export of timber from rebel-held territory to The Gambia, the Gambia Journal has learnt. This follows the hard-line faction's victory over a rival faction and the taking over of seventeen strategic villages lying along the border with the Gambia's district of Foni.
When Mr. Sadio and his followers were evicted from their traditional base along the border with Guinea Bissau earlier this year, his men moved north to the Gambia border pushing out the moderate faction that had been in control there for over twelve years. For more than a decade the vanquished faction had been keeping an informal truce with the Senegalese army while helping themselves with the region's lush forest products like palm wine, palm oil but mostly timber. Sources close to the Gambian Department of Forestry say an estimated 70% of the timber used in the Gambia are channeled through rebel checkpoints from the southern Senegalese province of Casamance.
Currently , dealers in timber pay rebel officers an amount of D800 for every tree felled and taken across the border. The plunder of the region's forest is yet to arouse serious official concern over its environmental impact on both Senegal and the Gambia. It is not yet known how long the rebel embargo on the illegal trade in timber will last.