As a gesture for a peaceful settlement of the Casamance conflict the leader of the Movement of Democratic Forces in Casamance, (MFDC) Salifu Sadio, has 4 days before the first anniversary of the capture of the 8 Senegalese troops by the movement, decided to release them through the Gambia government in the presence of representatives of the International Red Cross Society and other ambassadors.
According to GRTS, the men were picked up by a delegation of Government officials, despatched to Casamance by President Jammeh and Dr. Njogu Bah who headed the delegation comprising diplomats read the statement.
This news was broadcast over state owned Gambia Radio and Television Services during the 8pm news yesterday December 9.
At the ceremony, the Minister of the Interior, Minister of Presidential Affairs, the Gambia Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the MFDC officials and dignitaries of foreign governments were present.
Salif Sadio himself read out a statement in French which was later read out in English by Minister Njogu Bah, Head of the Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs. The statement he read during the handing over ceremony of these soldiers spelt out among other things that, "this gesture is a way of finding a solution to the conflict through peaceful means, to the calamity which we have been a victim of."
It indicated that today's world, it is not what it used to be and that the war in Casamance would not have lasted more than 30 years. He added that all the people of the world have the right to liberty and said the people of Casamance should not be an exception.
According to the rebel leader's statement read by Minister Njogu Bah, they expect that if the region of Casamance had an abundance of petrol or it had been a country producing diamonds, gold or uranium, the world would have been more associated with the problem of Casamance, but that, that has not been put into consideration which the statement said is regrettable.
"Since 1982 until today, the people of Casamance have suffered from crimes perpetrated by the Senegalese army", said the statement read by Njogu Bah. It pointed out that they should have been a Republican army or professional army that would provide security to the population of Casamance.
"The massive presence of Senegalese troops in Casamance is being justified as the mission of providing security for the population of Casamance", the statement reads. But it added that the people of Casamance have been used to lots of crimes perpetrated by these soldiers.
The statement of the MFDC leader concluded that it is important and relevant for the international community to get together and assist them in finding a definitive end to the suffering of their people, rather than continuing to be silent on this matter, the statement ends.
Editor's NoteForoyaa did not see any representative of the Senegalese Government or hear any speech from them. We will monitor how the Government of Senegal would react to this gesture and inform the readers accordingly. Foroyaa is however wondering why the Government would arrest and detain people like Baba Leigh for more than 72 hours while playing a mediation role to bring about peace in Casamance. The promotion of peace should be across the board.