Monday, April 16, 2012

Senegal's president in Gambia talks

Senegal President, Sall
(AFP) - Senegalese President Macky Sall arrived in Gambia Sunday for a one-day working visit on his first official trip since taking office.

Sall, who was met at Banjul International Airport by President Yahya Jammeh, was expected to seek a strengthening of ties between Banjul and Dakar, sources at Gambia's ministry of foreign affairs and international relations told AFP.

He would also use his Banjul trip to seek Jammeh's intervention and assistance in finding a peaceful solution to the Casamance conflict.


"Unless the two leaders engage themselves in frank, honest and open discussions about the crisis in Casamance, nothing will come out of it," Alieu Coker, a Gambian political analyst, said.

"Giving mere assurances of their commitment to tackle the crisis should not be the end; they should act for people to see."

The Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces rebel group has been fighting since 1982 for the independence of the province, a region separated from the north of Senegal by Gambia and renowned for its beaches.

Casamance has known periods of calm and spells of heavy fighting but the conflict intensified in November.
Over three decades, the conflict has killed thousands, including civilians, but no precise toll is available.

President Jammeh last week said in an interview on state television that Gambia and Senegal were interdependent and working together was in the interest of the two countries.

"The Gambia's foreign policy towards her neighbour remains unchanged, as the two are condemned by destiny to live together," he said.

"As far as we are concerned, we have never shifted our policy towards Senegal because Gambians and Senegalese are the same people and we want to maintain that policy of peaceful co-existence," he said.
"The Gambia is as strategic to Senegal as Senegal is strategic to The Gambia," Jammeh added.

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