19 April 2012

West Africa: Senegal - Gambia Relations: Casamance and the Bridge/Dissidents and Open Borders

The President of Senegal had indicated the priorities of his government in promoting SeneGambia relations and the President of the Gambia has also given an indication of his concerns. The two governments have started by undertaking to implement preventive diplomacy.

The priority of the Senegalese Government under President Macky Sall is to find a definite solution to the armed conflict in Casamance and facilitate free movement of people, goods and services from Northern Senegal to Southern Senegal through the building of a bridge across the Gambia river at the Yelli Tenda -Bamba Tenda crossing. President Sall has indicated that President Jammeh is the key to finding a lasting solution to the Casamance crisis.

President Jammeh did not say much about the bridge. He focused on Casamance and the Gambian dissidents allegedly hosted by Senegal. The two presidents made mutual pledges not to permit any form of destabilization of each other's governments.

President Macky Sall had informed Foroyaa that his first visit abroad would be the neighbouring countries of the Gambia and Guinea Bissau. Before he undertook to implement his aspiration Guinea Bissau went into crisis. He has visited Gambia. Foroyaa will contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find out how the Gambia intends to handle the Casamance conflict.

Foroyaa would however call on the Senegalese Government to organise a national Conference on Casamance to invite academics, political actors, both Government and opposition in the sub-region , religious and traditional leaders, NGOs and other civil society segments, jurists, ex-combatants and representatives of the armed opposition to chart a way forward for the ultimate resolution of the conflict.

The cabinet of the Gambia should meet to discuss and prepare white papers on the Casamance conflict and the proposed bridge for review by the National Assembly in particular and the general public to facilitate a nationwide debate on them.

Senegal Gambia relations has entered a new phase. Without sincerity and maturity the principles, instruments, institutions and institutional processes could not be put in place to move from words to meaningful deeds.

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