Says Senegal Is Everything But Hostile
|Read on behalf of The Gambia Government by Dr. Njogou L. Bah, secretary general and head of the Civil Service|
Our position since 1994 has been and will always be to work harmoniously with the Government and people of Senegal for the rapid socio-economic development of our two peoples who are one people divided by the unfortunate colonialism; a big disaster that befell the African continent and other parts of the World like Asia. To this end, both Gambians and Senegalese stand as living witnesses to our numerous Multi Million Dollar projects contracted to Senegalese companies up to date. In addition to the above, the Government went a step further to treat Senegalese Citizens in The Gambia just like Gambians, by waiving certain taxes that foreigners in The Gambia have to pay.
Unfortunately, our goodwill, sincerity and brotherhood towards our Senegalese Brothers and Sisters have never been reciprocated by the Government of Senegal from that of Abdou Diouf to Abdoulaye Wade. Things are worse under President Abdoulaye Wade who habours nothing good towards The Gambia and her people. His clear manifestation of hostility towards The Gambia was made very clear by Abdoulaye Wade himself during an interview on a French Television station LCI in his first official trip to France as President when he was asked what his mission to France was and what he expects the French Government to do for him and this was his response:
Quote "I am here to request the Government of France under Jacques Chirac to give me sophisticated arms to modernize the Senegalese Armed Forces in preparation for The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania". Since then Abdoulaye Wade has managed to destabilize Guinea Bissau and Mauritania but failed to achieve any of his hostile objectives against The Gambia despite his continuous efforts to do so as evidenced by the testimonies of the March 21st coup plotters whose leader Col. Ndure Cham and his accomplices are given sanctuary up till now by President Abdoulaye Wade and his Government.
It is an open secret that under Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal has become the safest haven for Gambian dissidents and criminals fleeing justice. It is also the Conference Centre for all anti-Gambian elements.
Gambians and Senegalese would remember when in 2005, Abdoulaye Wade in his desperate and frantic attempts to make The Gambia economy suffer in order to bring hardship to the Gambians including Senegalese who in their thousands call Gambia home, closed the border. He did not stop at that, but mounted a smear campaign globally against The Gambia. When all these failed to materialize, he instigated Senegalese to attack The Gambian players and their supporters in Dakar that led to serious injuries and damages of their buses and coaches that took them to Dakar. Before the ill-fated Gambia-Senegal match, Abdoulaye Wade on Senegalese radio and television told the Senegalese National Team that it was not a game of football but a war on The Gambia. Abdoulaye Wade goes around the world claiming to be a Pan Africanist apparently in total disregard to the stark realities of his Anti-African and Anti-Gambian stance.
With regards to the Cassamance, our position has always been and will continue to be the search for a peaceful solution and not violence. This did not please former President Diouf and his Government who preferred a Military solution and wanted The Gambia under this APRC Government to join them. When we refused to join them because we do not subscribe to violence to solve any problem, we were accused of supporting the MFDC because the President of The Gambia is a Jola. We did not succumb to blackmail and therefore continue to refuse to join them and pursue mediation as the only viable solution beneficial to both sides.
These accusations ranging from supplying arms as well as training MFDC rebels were intensified under the current Senegalese Government under the leadership of President Abdoulaye Wade despite our goodwill towards the Senegalese people evidence of which is the hundreds of thousands of Senegalese people who live, work and earn a living in The Gambia without harassment.
Senegalese are found eking out a living in all our economic sectors ranging from petty trade, major trade, the construction industry, fisheries and tourism just to name a few. What do the Gambians get from Abdoulaye Wade's Government, more hostility and a sinister obsession to see The Gambia destroyed with little consideration for the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of Senegalese citizens who call The Gambia home.
Worse still even Senegalese visiting The Gambia cannot be given gifts like sugar and clothing because even though they are gifts, they would be seized by the Senegalese customs. Even though there are a lot of Senegalese made goods in The Gambia, President Abdoulaye Wade's government will not allow even a needle from The Gambia to be traded in Senegal.
Despite all of Abdoulaye Wade's sweet talks during his recent visits to The Gambia he is still very hostile to The Gambia as evidenced by his recent moves e.g. His letter to the UN Accusing The Gambia of buying long range rockets and other sophisticated weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran apparently basing his arguments on the Arms discovered in the Federal Republic of Nigeria – despite documentary evidence to the contrary as the bill of lading clearly stated who the consignee is for the arms shipment in Nigeria. If those arms were for The Gambia; let it be clear that there is no power on earth that would have prevented The Gambia from negotiating with the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their release to The Gambia. The real truth and ALLAH is our witness is that those Arms were addressed to Nigeria and that is why the containers were discharged in the APAPA Port of Lagos. Unfortunately, Abdoulaye Wade decided to disregard this fact and jumped to his illogical and outrageous conclusion apparently blinded by his hatred of The Gambia.
The Republic of The Gambia is a sovereign state with the same rights that all independent states have to arm themselves according to their needs and The Gambia cannot and will not be dictated by any state not to Arm or what type of Arms we should purchase irrespective of what is going on in a neighbouring country especially Cassamance. Alas, President Abdoulaye Wade thinks that he can use the arms shipment from Iran in Nigeria to go round the world through envoys to mount a campaign against The Gambia. With regards to the crisis in Cassamance which has occasioned outrageous atrocities with the complicity of two Western Powers, it will be interesting for The Gambians, the international Community but more so the Senegalese people to know the naked truth:-
That from 1994 to date, we have made it very clear that neither the Senegalese troops nor MFDC would use Gambian soil as a base to wage war. Evidence of this position is the successful arrest and prosecution of any Cassamance rebel found in The Gambian territory and their conviction by the competent Gambian Courts. Interestingly enough, President Abdoulaye Wade has been sending special envoys appealing for the release of the so called MFDC Rebels convicted and sentenced to various prison terms for entering The Gambia armed as well as armed incursions into Gambian territory. Why, because in the Cassamance, there are two factions: one MFDC, fighting for independence and another called the Jakayi Group, trained armed and paid by the Senegalese Government. This group also calls itself MFDC Jakayi – This is the group that is carrying out outrageous atrocities against unarmed Cassamance Civilians suspected of sympathizing with the independence-seeking MFDC.
As far back as 2003, one Member of this group i.e. Jakayi group who was very notorious in Cassamance for his outrageous brutality against civilians, by the name Borry Kambeela; whose preferred method included castrating his male victims, forcing them to dig their own graves before murdering them was arrested in The Gambia and handed over to Abdoulaye Wade's Government to be tried for his outrageous crimes. He was released without trial by President Abdoulaye Wade and sent back to Cassamance, a free man! Why because he was found to be a member of the Senegalese Government sponsored rebel group.
That is why we decided to try them if any rebel entered Gambian territory armed or uses Gambian territory as a base for operations in the Cassamance. One of the Original Commanders of this Jakayi Group, Swaibou Jatta, Aka, Kammongoye was arrested and detained in The Gambia together with his aides in 2004. Surprisingly President Abdoulaye Wade sent several envoys appealing for their release under the pretext that only their release would facilitate negotiations with the MFDC. We subsequently released them only for Abdoulaye Wade to put a prize of several millon CFA franc on Salify Sarjo's head. Swaibou Jatta alias Kamongoye returned to Cassamance to regain command of the Jakayi Group. We then realized how deceptive President Abodulaye Wade is. When those so-called MFDC rebels, commanded by Magnye Jammeh who were using Gambian Territories as a base were arrested and charged, it was the same President Wade who was frantically sending envoys to us to appeal for their release but we refused. They were convicted and sentenced to jail terms. Until recently, Abdoulaye Wade has been appealing to us either by phone or through special envoys to release them but we refused. The Cassamance crisis has unfortunately become a moneymaking enterprise for some big wigs higher up the Senegalese Government. Cassamance has become a big plantation for Marijuana where certain rebel factions especially Jakayi openly cultivate, process and export cannabis with impunity.
Evidence of it, just last September, in intensifying our war on drugs, we discovered a sophisticated Drugs Factory in a Village in Foni straddling the Cassamance-Gambia border but both the Factory and the warehouse were on the Senegalese side of the border. We decided to inform President Wade in writing and proposed a joint raid on the village i.e. Senegalese troops to raid the Factory and the warehouse on the Senegalese side of the village whilst the NDEA, backed by the Gambia Armed Forces would raid The Gambian side. A date was arranged and both The Gambian CDS and his Senegalese counterpart worked out the plans. Four days before the raid, President Wade called President Jammeh on the phone asking for the raid to be put off until his return from a foreign trip as he President Wade wanted to coordinate the raid on the Senegalese side himself. A new date was set! Guess what, on D'Day, the NDEA backed by The Gambia Armed Forces raided The Gambian side of the village only to discover that the Senegalese Armed Forces were nowhere to be seen. A truckload of cannabis was seized on The Gambian side of the same village whilst the factory and the warehouse on the Senegalese side remained untouched!
That Jakayi rebel group is on the payroll of President Wade is an open secret and we have documents to prove it. Now who is sponsoring the rebels in Cassamance when some of them receive salaries regularly from President Wade's Government? We have never assisted the MFDC in any way but that all Gambian dissidents from Kukoi Samba Sanyang to former Col. Ndure Cham are being given safe sanctuary by President Wade and his Government is an open secret. In fact, Kukoi Samba Sanyang is traveling with a Senegalese Passport a Photograph of which is in our possession together with a letter he wrote to President Wade!
Finally, is it not interestingly shocking that President Wade, despite his claim of being a Pan Africanist, has never allowed any Senegalese official to attend any cultural festival in The Gambia from the Roots Festival to the Kanilai International Festival from his assumption of power to date despite his Government being officially invited each time! The Senegalese Government has never invited even one Gambian Musician or cultural group to participate in any official event from 2000 to date despite the fact that Senegalese Musicians are being patronized in The Gambia several times each year including official Gambia Government events and other public institutions.
In addition, a Gambian company has never been awarded a contract by any Senegalese government from 1994 to date despite the fact that Senegalese Companies are being awarded MEGA Contracts in The Gambia up to today! Even Gambian traders cannot send goods across Senegal to countries like Mali etc. Pan Africanism is an ideal that can only be proven by concrete actions and not mere lip service.
Despite all these, the government and people of The Gambia continue to welcome in our midst our Senegalese brothers and sisters from all works of life and we will, as true Pan Africanists, continue to welcome our brothers and sisters from Africa in general and Senegal in particular. We are kit and kin with the Senegalese people as destined by Allah and President Wade and his Government’s hostility towards The Gambia cannot change that. Nowadays, even the officially approved Senegalese Website (Seneweb) is being used by Gambia dissidents to attack the Gambia Government!
One thing is certain; The Almighty Allah will one day pass His judgment between The Gambia and President Wade and his Government for all to see. This Inshallah shall never fail. It is just a matter of time as the Almighty Allah is a just Supreme Authority who rewards people for their deeds and punishes those found wanting.
In Allah we trust and we shall never regret it.