Does Guinea-Bissau’s President’s Death have Consequences in Casamance?   Leave a comment

As many of you read from various sources, Guinea-Bissau’s President Malam Bacai Sanha died on January 9th in Paris. As of late, Bissau has been recognized as as a cocaine and marijuana hub as well as one of many unstable countries in the West African region. What happens now is unclear for Bissau with regard to leadership and its civil unrest. However, its neighbor – Senegal – may have potential impact.

Next month marks Senegal’s presidential election. President Wade vows to run again, even after controversy with his attempt to alter his country’s constitution to have him run for a third term, along with running in opposition to Senegal’s famous musician – Youssou N’Dour.

Bissau’s northern border is shared with Senegal’s southern most territory, which contains West Africa’s longest-running (27+ years) and forgotten conflict – the conflict in the Casamance region. The MFDC uses Bissau as a ‘launching pad‘ to regroup and attack the people of Casamance. Also, since the Government of Senegal’s (GOS) military doesn’t frequent Casamance due to rebel attacks and confrontations, Casamance is a perfect venue for Bissau’s drugs to be transported further to Europe, either via Banjul, Dakar, or even by land via Mali and Mauritania. Furthermore, hundreds, if not thousands, of Casamance refugees have fled to Bissau, thus creating tensions between the countries.

Whoever the incoming president of Bissau is, they must work with the new president of Senegal in hopes to address the conflict in Casamance. If the new leader of Bissau does not grapple with her/his own nation’s instability, then the country and the MFDC may aid each other to escalate the region’s unrest; this is scary. Guinea-proper doesn’t need this possibility of further turmoil in West Africa, as it has its own problems. I am sure Jammeh has turned a blind-eye, as he is too worried about ruling The Gambia for “a billion years” (although Wade and Jammeh have been on speaking terms as of late thus solidify a renewed SeneGambia relationship/entity).

Bottom-line: due to the prolixity of Casamance and Bissau, the instability in both locations, the awaited elections in Senegal, and the tragic death of Sanha – the timing could not be any worse for both countries. I feel that Sanha’s passing will affect Casamance one way or the other. We will eagerly await to see what unfolds in the coming days/weeks.

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Posted January 10, 2012 by Travis Warrington in Conflict

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