The Point (Banjul)

31 December 2012

Gambia: President Commits to Casamance Peace

President Yahya Jammeh has again reiterated his resolve to finding lasting peace in the troubled southern Senegalese region of Casamance.

In a statement delivered on his behalf by the Vice President, at the farewell parade of GAMCOY 15 held on Friday at July 22 Square in Banjul, President Jammeh noted that though The Gambia is at peace, his government will not relent in the search for eternal peace in Casamance.

"Though the Gambia is at peace, my Government will not relent in the search for eternal peace in the southern Senegalese region of Casamance and neighbouring Guinea Bissau, and indeed the rest of Africa, all the more reason for our involvement in peace negotiations to this effect," he stated.

The Gambian leader deplored the fact that for much too long (since independence), Africans have spent so many years and valuable resources fighting among themselves, rather than concentrate on developing their economies and human resources.

"Africa is the richest continent in terms of mineral resources, yet we are the most backward in terms of development," Jammeh added.

Noting that there can never be any meaningful development without peace, President Jammeh said each time The Gambia sends its soldiers out on international peacekeeping missions, he thinks of the peace and tranquility enjoyed in The Gambia.

"It is for this reason that my Government will continue to participate in international peacekeeping missions across the globe, as per our international obligations, so as to bring peace and harmony to those needy peoples of the world, particularly on our beloved continent, Africa," he stated.

Also speaking on the occasion was Lt. General Ousman Bargie, chief of defence staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, who underscored the importance of the peacekeeping mission to Darfur.

The contingent, comprising 208 soldiers of all ranks including 9 officers and 199 other ranks is the 15th batch of peacekeepers from The Gambia to be deployed to Darfur, since the beginning of the mission in 2005.

Under the command of Lt. Col Yahya Drammeh, the officers will be in the troubled region of Darfur for at least six months.

According to CDS Bargie, the contingent has been prepared in the past three months with training at the Gambia Armed Forces Training School in collaboration with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment of the British Army, and that they are expected to be professionals when dealing with the challenges in the mission.

He urged the contingent to make it their task, among other things, to contribute meaningfully to the lives of the people of Darfur. To achieve this, he added, they must work hard to win the hearts and minds of the civilian population.

"This requires a high sense of commitment and dedication to the service of the mission and the people of Darfur. Humanitarian aid agencies and peacekeepers are under daily threat because of insecurity throughout the region," he said, adding that the situation still remains volatile, complex and tense and, therefore, presents significant challenges to peacekeepers.

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