Insights on Casamance   1 comment

I just got done conversing with a high-ranking Senegalese working for a respected agency here in Casamance about the region’s conflict as well as how to approach peacebuilding here. A few tidbits from our conversation*. There is legitimatized fear that the turmoil and instability in Mali may carry over into Casamance. (And if this turns true, my hypothesis will be proven).
With the recent research and findings of oil and natural gas reserves off the coast of both Casamance and The Gambia (even though President Jammeh vows to not let international hands “take” his oil). Thus, there is a renewed interest in SeneGambia by the international community (which again furthers my hypothesis of the importance of the region).

  • The MFDC are, currently, considered more like bandits than rebels as their position and actions as of late sway more towards thievery for self-sustenance rather than for a united cause (for independence).
  • The MFDC, being mostly of the Jola ethnic group, have sought refugee in neighboring countries – The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
  • Guinea-Bissau is a perfect place for the MFDC to hide from the Senegalese military, as the country is in turmoil, as well as obtain highly advanced weaponry from various sources/countries.
  • Jammeh has allowed the MFDC to stay in ‘camps’ throughout the The Gambia, as he knows the Senegalese military has no power in The Gambia. Thus, this is seen as protecting the MFDC and aiding/directly supporting the conflict in Casamance to continue.
  • Jammeh also has informants in Dakar, throughout The Gambia, and in Casamance to tell him of the Senegalese military intentions and movements so he can inform and protect the MFDC.
  • The drug ring and movement from South America into Guinea-Bissau to get to Europe has now included The Gambia. News sources have not confirmed this yet. However, including The Gambia makes logical sense, as the drugs coming from Guinea-Bissau (if they travel via land) may go through The Gambia as the country lies in the direct route north of Bissau.
  • Jammeh’s profits from his involvement with the drug ring does not go to help his own people, but to pay for his wife’s travel around the world.
  • The oil and natural gas reserves found off the coat of Casamance could assist the region to become independent however, the Government of Senegal will never allow this to occur.
  • Using cultural norms in regional peacebuilding efforts have been used in the past (see World Education) and were successful, but only in a limited portion of the region. These approaches can be used again in Casamance in addition to addressed concerns in The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau (regardless of the drug issue).

Bottom-line, the conflict in Casamance, its history, and the people and countries involved, is complex, to say the least. And this complexity creates “a fog”, says one of the region’s experts.

*Although I trust my source (and I wont give their name, title and where they work), the above information is only from one person and thus cannot necessarily be taken as fact. I just find what this one person said very interesting, hence this post.

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One response to Insights on Casamance

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  1. Very good insights. Are there any diplomatic talks/negotiations going on between the Senegal and Gambia? This situation is very fragile, as you state, and is severely at risk of getting out of hand. How successful has World Peace been in your opinion? What cultural norms in peace building used in the past specifically would you recommend? I look forward to reading your research conclusions.

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