Casamance conflict

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Casamance conflict
Alerte aux mines terrestres a Oussouye.jpg
Painting in Oussouye warning of land mines in the area.
Date1982 – 1 May 2014 (main conflict)
2015 – present (low-level violence)
Location
Status Unilateral ceasefire; [1] ongoing low-level violence.
Belligerents
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau (Vieira government, 1998–99) [2]
Non-combat support:
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco [3]

Flag of Casamance (2012).svgFlag of Casamance.svg MFDC

  • Three main factions (Sadio, Badiatte, and Diatta Groups) [4]
  • Various splinter factions [2]
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg Guinea-Bissau rebels (1998–99) [5]
Alleged support:
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia (until 2017) [6]
Commanders and leaders

Flag of Senegal.svg Abdou Diouf (1982–2000)
Flag of Senegal.svg Abdoulaye Wade (2000–2012)

Contents

Flag of Senegal.svg Macky Sall (2012–2014)

Flag of Casamance.svg Augustin Diamacoune Senghor (1982–2007) [4]
Flag of Casamance.svg Salif Sadio  (WIA) (2007–2014) [4]
Flag of Casamance.svg Caesar Badiatte (1982–2014) [4]
Flag of Casamance.svg Mamadou Niantang Diatta (1982–2014) [6] [7] [8]

Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg Ansumane Mané (1998–99) [5]
Strength
Flag of Senegal.svg Armed Forces of Senegal: Thousands (2012) [4]
Flag of Morocco.svg 500 Moroccan bomb disposal advisors [7]
180 (2006) [9]
Casualties and losses
5,000 killed in total since 1982 [10]
60,000 internally displaced [11]

The Casamance conflict is an ongoing low-level conflict that has been waged between the Government of Senegal and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) since 1982. On May 1, 2014 the leader of the MFDC sued for peace and declared a unilateral ceasefire.

Politics of Senegal

Politics in Senegal takes place within the framework of a presidential democratic republic. The President of Senegal is the head of state and government. Executive power in Senegal is concentrated in the president's hands.

Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance Founded in 1947, with a paramilitary and a political wing, it is no longer officially recognized as a political party ; since the early 1980s principal movement for the independence of the Casamance.

The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance is the main separatist movement in the Casamance region of Senegal, founded in 1982. It was supported by Guinea-Bissau President João Bernardo Vieira until he was overthrown in 1999. It relies mainly on the Jola people. Its armed wing was formed in 1985 and is called Atika.

The MFDC has called for the independence of the Casamance region, whose population is religiously and ethnically distinct from the rest of Senegal. [12] The bloodiest years of the conflict were during the 1992–2001 period and resulted in over a thousand battle related deaths. [12]

Casamance Geographical region in Senegal

Casamance is the area of Senegal south of the Gambia including the Casamance River. It consists of the Lower Casamance and the Upper Casamance. The largest city of Casamance is Ziguinchor.

On December 30, 2004 an agreement was reached between the MFDC and the government which promised to provide the voluntary integration of MFDC fighters into the country's paramilitary forces, economic recovery programmes for Casamance, de-mining and aid to returning refugees. [12] Nevertheless, some hard-line factions of the MFDC soon defected from elements of the MFDC who had signed the agreement and no negotiations took place following the breakdown of talks in Foundiougne on 2 February 2005. [12]

Fighting again emerged in 2010 and 2011 but waned following the April 2012 election of Macky Sall. Peace negotiations under the auspices of Saint Egidio community took place in Rome and on 14 December 2012, President Sall announced that Casamance would be a test-case for advanced decentralization policy. [12]

Macky Sall current President and former Prime Minister of Senegal

Macky Sall is a Senegalese politician who has been President of Senegal since April 2012. He was re-elected President in the first round voting in February 2019 Senegalese presidential election. Under President Abdoulaye Wade, Sall was Prime Minister of Senegal from April 2004 to June 2007 and President of the National Assembly (Senegal) from June 2007 to November 2008. He was the Mayor of Fatick from 2002 to 2008 and held that post again from 2009 to 2012.

Community of SantEgidio organization

The Community of Sant'Egidio is a lay Catholic association dedicated to social service, founded in 1968 under the leadership of Andrea Riccardi. The group grew and in 1973 was given a home at the former Carmelite monastery and church of Sant'Egidio in Rome, Italy. In 1986 it received recognition from the Roman Curia of the Holy See as an international association of the faithful. Its activities include the Church's evening prayer together daily as a stimulus for lending assistance to a whole spectrum of needy persons: "lonely and non-self-sufficient elderly, immigrants and homeless people, terminally ill and HIV/AIDS patients, children at risk of deviance and marginalization, nomads and the physically and mentally handicapped, drug addicts, victims of war, and prisoners." The community also has a high profile in the area of peace negotiations, in addressing the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and in its opposition to capital punishment. It takes an ecumenical approach in all of its work.

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Background

Map of the Casamance region (dark red) as part of wider Senegal Senegal Casamance.png
Map of the Casamance region (dark red) as part of wider Senegal

The Casamance region is the southern region of Senegal which, although connected in the East to Senegal, is separated from the rest of Senegal by the Gambia. The principal inhabitants of the region are members of the Jola ethnic group and many are Christians or animists, unlike the majority of Senegalese who are Muslims. [12] The sentiment has existed amongst Diola that they do not benefit sufficiently from the region's richness and that Dakar, the capital, reaps most of the profit from the region's products. [12]

The Gambia country in West Africa

The Gambia, officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa that is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal with the exception of its western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country within mainland Africa.

The Jola are an ethnic group found in Senegal, the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. The word 'Jola' is however the Mandinka name for this ethnic group and means 'payback', since Jolas are renowned for doing back what's been done to them, be it a good or a bad deed. The name of the Jola tribe in their own language and tradition is Ajamat. So in their language, they are the Ajamat or Ajamataw people. There are large numbers of these people on the Atlantic coast between the southern banks of the Gambia River, the Casamance region of Senegal and the northern part of Guinea-Bissau. In the 1440s the Jolas were engaged in palm wine tapping in Bathurst. By the end of the 11th century some Jola had moved to producing groundnuts as a cash crop and, much later, during the Second World War had expanded greatly. They also reared livestock and produced other crops including sweet potatoes, yams and watermelon. Distinct from elsewhere in Africa, this tribe is the only one of its kind with its tradition and culture - the Jola live in their kingdom with their king, the Marabout and the elders, within Gambia and the highlands of Gambia, the Casamance region of Senegal, and northern Guinea-Bissau.

Christians people who adhere to Christianity

Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).

Timeline

1970s

It was not before the 1970s that a genuine separatist sentiment emerged in Casamance. One of the recurring themes was that Northerners dominated the economy of the region. [13]

1980s

In the 1980s, resentment about the marginalization and exploitation of Casamance by the Senegalese central government gave rise to an independence movement in form of the MFDC, which was officially founded in 1982. This initial movement managed to unite Jola and other ethnic groups in the region, such as Fulani, Mandinka and Bainuk, and led to rising popular resistance against the government and northerners. The MFDC began to organise demonstrations, and tensions eventually escalated in massive riots in December 1983. The Senegalese government answered by dividing the Casamance province into two smaller regions, probably in order to split and weaken the independence movement. This only heightened tensions, and the government began to jail MFDC leaders such as Augustin Diamacoune Senghor. [14]

Another factor in the growing independence movement was the failure of the Senegambia Confederation in 1989, which had economically benefited Casamance and whose end only worsened the situation of Casamance's population. [14]

1990s

The MFDC and other separatist groups originally used this horizontal white-green-red tricolor as Casamance's national flag Flag of Casamance.svg
The MFDC and other separatist groups originally used this horizontal white-green-red tricolor as Casamance's national flag

The discovery of oil in the region emboldened the MFDC to organise mass demonstrations for immediate independence in 1990, which were brutally suppressed by the Senegalese military. This pushed the MFDC into armed rebellion. The following fighting was vicious, and 30,000 civilians were displaced by 1994. Several ceasefires were agreed during the 1990s, but none lasted, often also due to splits within the MFDC along ethnic lines and between those ready negotiate and those who refused to lay down their weapons. In 1992 the MFDC divided into two main groups, Front Sud and Front Nord. Whereas Front Sud was dominated by Jola and called for full independence, Front Nord included both Jola as well as non-Jola tribesmen and was ready to work with the government based on a failed agreement of 1991. [16] Another ceasefire in 1993 led to the break-off of hardline rebel groups from the MFDC. These continued to attack the military. [5]

The Senegalese military relocated thousands of soldiers from the northern provinces to Casamance in 1995 in an attempt to finally crush the uprising. The northern soldiers often mistreated the local population and did not differentiate between those who supported the rebels and government loyalists. By this time, the rebels had established bases in Guinea-Bissau, reportedly being supplied with arms by Bissau-Guinean military commander Ansumane Mané. Mané's alleged support for the separatists was one factor which led to the Guinea-Bissau Civil War that erupted in 1998. When Senegal decided to send its military into Guinea-Bissau to fight for the local government against Mané's forces, the latter and the MFDC formed a full alliance. The two rebel movements started to fight side by side in both Senegal as well as Guinea-Bissau. [5] Although the Senegal-supported government of Guinea-Bissau collapsed, the following MFDC-sympathetic regime was also overthrown in May 1999. [2]

In an renewed offensive against the separatists between April and June 1999, the Senegalese military shelled Casamance's de facto capital Ziguinchor for the first time, causing numerous civilian casualties and the displacement of 20,000 people along the Senegal–Guinea-Bissau border. From then on, fighting mostly took place in the eastern Kolda Region. Another attempt at peace talks started in December 1999, with Senegalese and MFDC representatives meeting in Banjul. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire. [17]

2000s

Peace talks resumed in January 2000, with both sides attempting to end the military conflict and aiming at restoring political and economic normality to Casamance. Discussions were held about the MFDC transforming into a political party, but the talks were hindered by the MFDC's factionalism, and the refusal of the Senegalese government to even consider Casamance's independence. As result, the peace talks collapsed in November 2000, with MFDC leader Augustin Diamacoune Senghor declaring that his group would continue to fight until achieving independence. A new ceasefire was agreed to in March 2001, but failed to stop the conflict. Meanwhile, internal divisions deepened among the MFDC about the movement's aims and Senghor's leadership. [17]

On 30 December 2004, the two sides of the conflict signed a truce, which lasted until August 2006. [9]

Since the split, low-level fighting has continued in the region. Another round of negotiations took place in 2005. [18] Its results were, however, proved partial and armed clashes between MFDC factions and the army continued in 2006, prompting thousands of civilians to flee across the border to The Gambia. [19]

On 2 January 2006, anti-talk MFDC insurgents committed several armed robberies and killed a senior Diouloulou official. The insurgents notoriously adopted Rick Derringer's "Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Koo" as an anthem of sorts. [20]

On 23 April 2006, rebels attacked a Senegalese army outpost in Nyassia. The incident came after Guinea Bissauan troops shelled insurgent positions in Baraca Mandioca, Bazere, Koumere, Kassou and other areas, earlier in April. [21]

On 20 December 2006, a Senegalese army vehicle triggered a landmine in the outskirts of Sindian. [3]

On 20 December 2006, rebels attacked a Senegalese army vehicle near the village of Kagnaru, killing 2 and wounding 14 soldiers. [3]

The attacks came as a response to the demining process launched by the Senegalese army without consultations with the rebels. The demining operation was led by Moroccan army experts. [3]

On 13 January 2007, Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, the charismatic leader of MDFC died in Paris. His death hastened the split of the MDFC, which divided into three major armed factions, led by Salif Sadio, Caesar Badiatte, and Mamadou Niantang Diatta respectively. [4]

On 31 July 2007, one rebel was killed and one injured, after opposing factions of MDFC engaged in a skirmish outside the Bai Pol village, Gambia. [22]

On 7 June 2009, MDFC gunmen killed 3 people in the area of Dailoulou. [23]

On 9 June 2009, radical MDFC militants killed a former MFDC member, who at the time was serving as a peace process mediator. [23]

On 25 August 2009, MFDC insurgents engaged in heavy clashes with security forces in the city of Ziguinchor; the University of Ziguinchor was among the buildings damaged during the firefight. [24]

On 9 September 2009, one soldier was killed after MFDC rebels fired at an army outpost in Diabir. [25]

On 2 October 2009, MFDC insurgents ambushed an army vehicle in the Kolda region. The insurgents attacked the troops in the vehicle with guns and rocket propelled grenades after they became stuck on a muddy road. Seven Senegalese troops, including a captain, were killed and a further four were wounded. [26]

2010s

By the 2010s, the MFDC had adopted a new flag for their rebellion Flag of Casamance (2012).svg
By the 2010s, the MFDC had adopted a new flag for their rebellion

Between 16–21 March 2010, 3 soldiers were killed and 10 wounded, as Senegalese troops carried out operations in the Baraf, Kassana and Mamatoro districts of Casamance. [28]

In October 2010, an illegal shipment of arms from Iran was seized in Lagos, Nigeria. The Senegalese government suspected that the arms were destined for the Casamance, and recalled its ambassador to Tehran over the matter. [29] Heavy fighting occurred in December 2010 when about 100 MDFC fighters attempted to take Bignona south of the Gambian border supported by heavy weapons, such as mortars and machine guns. They were repulsed with several casualties by Senegalese soldiers who suffered seven dead in the engagement. [30]

On 26 August 2011, MFDC rebels robbed several people, on the Senoba-Ziguinchor road in northern Casamance, and later exchanged fire with soldiers outside the village of Diango. [31]

On 21 December 2011, Senegal media reported that 12 soldiers were killed in Senegal's Casamance region following a separatist rebel attack on an army base near the town of Bignona. [32]

Three soldiers were killed during a clash 50 kilometers (31 mi) north of Ziguinchor. The Senegalese government blamed the conflict on separatists in the region on February 14, 2012. [33]

Two attacks occurred on 11 and 23 March 2012, leaving 4 soldiers killed and 8 injured. [34]

Since April 2012, peace in the Casamance has been a top priority for the administration of Senegalese President Macky Sall. [35]

On 3 February 2013, four people were killed during a bank robbery perpetrated by the MFDC in the town of Kafoutine; the rebels stole a total of $8,400. [36]

On 1 May 2014, one of the leaders of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, Salif Sadio, sued for peace and declared a unilateral cease-fire after secret talks held at the Vatican between his forces and the Government of Senegal led by Macky Sall. [1]

Yahya Jammeh has been known to recruit MFDC fighters into the Gambian military, reportedly since they are more inclined to be loyal to Jammeh's regime than the people of the Gambia. [37] During the 2017 ECOWAS military intervention in the Gambia, MFDC rebels supported pro-Jammeh forces. [38]

Member of the group were suspected of being behind an ambush that left 13 people dead near the town of Ziguinchor on 6 January 2018. [39] Leaders of the MFDC, however, have denied responsibility for the execution-style killing, which they say was connected with the illegal harvesting of teak wood and rosewood from the forested region, not the gathering of firewood. [40]

Related Research Articles

Senegal republic in Western Africa

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also surrounds The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar.

Yahya Jammeh 2nd President of the Gambia

Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh is a Gambian politician and former military officer who was the leader of The Gambia from 1994 to 2017, firstly as chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) from 1994 to 1996 and then as President of the Gambia from 1996 to 2017.

Senegambia Confederation former country

Senegambia, officially the Senegambia Confederation, was a loose confederation in the late 20th century between the West African countries of Senegal and its neighbour The Gambia, which is almost completely surrounded by Senegal. The confederation was founded on 1 February 1982 following an agreement between the two countries signed on 12 December 1981. It was intended to promote cooperation between the two countries, but was dissolved by Senegal on 30 September 1989 after The Gambia refused to move closer toward union. The Senegambia Confederation should not be confused with the historic Senegambia region, also shortened to Senegambia.

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Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor was a Roman Catholic priest and a leading figure in the Casamance independence movement from Senegal. He served as director of the Saint-Louis of Ziguinchor Seminary from 1972 until 1975.

Mpack, Senegal Town in Ziguinchor Region, Senegal

Mpack is a village in Niaguis Arrondissement, Ziguinchor Department, Ziguinchor Region in southern Senegal. Government statistics classified it as a rural community and recorded its population as 518 people in 72 households. It is located about seven kilometres from the regional capital of Ziguinchor. It is one of the endpoints of the 90-km long Oussouye-Kabrousse-Cap Skirring-Ziguinchor-Mpack road, which is being rebuilt with 17 billion CFA francs of funding from the European Union. The village used to be on the front lines of the Casamance Conflict between the Senegalese government and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance.

Jola or Diola is a dialect continuum spoken in Senegal, the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. It belongs to the Bak branch of the Niger–Congo language family.

Bayot is a language of southern Senegal, southwest of Ziguinchor in a group of villages near Nyassia, and in northwestern Guinea-Bissau, along the Senegalese border, and in the Gambia.

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Ziguinchor Commune in Ziguinchor Region, Senegal

Ziguinchor is the capital of the Ziguinchor Region, and the chief town of the Casamance area of Senegal, lying at the mouth of the Casamance River. It has a population of over 230,000. It is the seventh largest city of Senegal, but largely separated from the north of the country by The Gambia.

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References

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Bibliography

Further reading