Friday, June 9

Senegal Gov’t, Jakai rebel faction to sign peace deal

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Addressing peace advocates from Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau at a forest and peace festival in a Senegalese village of Kujube on Friday, Harry Ndecky said the deal will be a step in the realisation of their three years effort of negotiation between the government of Senegal and the rebel faction. 

The rebellion in Casamance will enter its 41st year since its commencement in 1981, leading to the birth of several civil society organisations who continue to search for peaceful solutions to the conflict through engagements and organisation of peace talks both in The Gambia and Senegal. Since the commencement of the insurgency, thousands of people, including civilians have been killed and the disappearance of dozens. 

The Friday forest and peace festival was organised by Young People without Borders, a youth-led community-based organisation in Siffoe in partnership with COSPAC, with funding from the American Jewish World Service.

Mr Ndecky said the peace agreement will be signed in the village of Jakai on Saturday 13th May, saying his organisation is satisfied with the abundant space that both the Senegal government and the Jakai rebel faction provided to them to do the mediation. 

Last year, peace advocates in search for solutions for a lasting peace in the Senegambia region, particularly in Casamance gathered in Siffoe to strengthen discussions on peace where they observed that only peaceful negotiations can help establish peace in the region. During that synergy, participants discussed how to take a united front towards sustaining peace in the region and beyond. The negotiations further engaged authorities in both Gambia and Senegal to discourage the unnecessary checkpoints and encourage free movement of people.

“The peace deal will contain conditions including provision of birth certificates to people who could not have access due to instability, peaceful return of all refugees, bringing of development projects in the Casamance region and the reintegration of rebels into meaningful engagements,” Mr Ndecky said. 

He said next week, road construction works will commence in some part of communities in Casamance as part of the conditions of the deal, saying they consider their actions as worthy engagement that they hope can provide lasting peace in the region. 

Towards the end of last year, fighting erupted between the Senegalese military force and one of the rebel factions in the region, leading to the killing and capture of some soldiers. The military later launched an offensive on the rebels and since then, the leader Salifu Sarjo has not been heard of with people suspecting that he may have been killed during the offensive. 

Chairperson of Young People Without Borders, Kalifa Kanteh said their role in peace advocacy within the Senegambia region have been constant and active because they envisage the attainment of a peaceful Senegambia through their peace talks. 

Last year, the Senegal army reported that it had captured several rebel posts and camps around Badème and along the border between the towns of Bagame and Bouniak. The offensive left two military personnel wounded; one of them stepping on a land mine and the other shot.

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