Wednesday, February 8

Senegambia youths poised in search of lasting peace in region 

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At a day’s peace synergy on the theme: ‘Consolidating the power of non-violence through a united society: organisations working together to make peace a realized dream’, participants also called on peace advocates to amplify discussions surrounding the difficult times Casamance and its people have been encountering. 

The synergy was organised by Young People Without Borders, a youth-led community based in Siffoe in partnership with a Ziguinchor-based civil society organisation COSPAC. It was funded by the American Jewish World Service. 

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

This week, Senegal’s army reported that it had captured several rebel posts and camps in the Southern region belonging to the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) around Badème and along the border between the towns of Bagame and Bouniak. The offensive left two military personnel wounded, with one of them stepping on a land mine and the other shot.

The instability in Senegal’s Casamance region has led 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. This December will mark the fortieth year since commencement of the unrest with the killing and disappearance of dozens of people. 

Chairman of Siffoe village development committee Lamin Demba emphasised that peace is a requirement for stable development process and its advocacy will help in the enjoyment of peaceful coexistence. “It is important for people and countries to demand peace but this must be done in a responsible manner.”

There have been recent confrontations between the Senegalese military and rebel movements in the Casamance region leading to the capture of some soldiers. There are more than five different rebel groups which include the Movement for Democracy in Casamance (MFDC) in Casamance who claim they are demanding the independence of the Casamance region. 

Councillor of Kartong Ward Bubacarr M. Kanteh said young people have greater role in the maintenance and sustainability of peace and appealed to them to ensure playing their role in sustaining peace within the Senegambia region and beyond. 

Harry Ndecky, president of COSPAC said their membership has presence in Senegal and Guinea Bissau for the enhancement of peace and stability within the region, saying everyone must participate in the maintenance of peace.

He said the rebellion in Casamance started in the early 80s giving rise to several groups who are demanding for the independence of the Southern region of Senegal and leading to the deaths of dozens of people and displacement of many. 

During the synergy, participants discussed how to take a united front towards sustaining peace in the region and beyond. These negotiations will further engage authorities in both Gambia and Senegal to discourage the unnecessary checkpoints and encourage free movement of people.