The exportation of Iranian arms to our sub-region which is dramatized by the seizure of 13 containers carrying anti aircraft ammunition, rockets, mortars, and grenades in Nigeria has put Gambia and Senegal in the spotlight. Since there is an armed uprising in Casamance the issue of the weapons has become a security concern in Senegal as skirmishes between the Senegalese troops and the Casamance combatants lead to deaths. This has led Radio and Television stations as well as the press to invite Government Officials, Academics, Human Rights Defenders, Media Practitioners and Religious leaders to express their concerns. Foroyaa has followed the debate.
Some of the comments do not make any separation between the Governments and the people. If they are in Senegal they would say that Gambians have inferiority complex because of their size and tend to be aggressive against every Senegalese as a way of showing that they are not inferior. Some would argue that there is a hidden agenda by the state in The Gambia to link Casamance with Gambia and Bissau to build an empire. Some have accused the Gambian state of arming the Casamance Independentists and have questioned why the Senegalese state has not broken relation with the Gambian state.
In our view, there can be no proper analysis unless one separates government from people and evaluate how the two States relate to each other; how each state relates to the people and how the people relate to each other.
An objective analysis would reveal that the Casamance crisis started when neither Jammeh nor Wade had become head of state. It started during the time of Jawara and Joof in Senegal. The crisis has been fueled since 1982 which is 29 years ago. Our findings reveal that contrary to the impression being given that the Casamance Independentists are fighting military men from the North of Senegal many people who are posted in Casamance are also from Casamance. The news of the most recent killing of soldiers was investigated by Foroyaa and we have discovered that one of the soldiers has Jola speaking relatives in the Gambia. The person concerned had recently returned from studies and has in fact married a wife recently. Which state is Gaining from such deaths? It goes without saying that Millions are being spent to maintain troops in Casamance. This has led to thousands of farms being abandoned and families have had to leave Casamance to settle in The Gambia. The children of many of these settlers do not go very far in school. Some become maids and gardeners in homes while others become labour hands. Those who become fighters stay in the bush without going to school or learning skills. In short, if they were to abandon the fight today they would not be able to live productive lives other than farming. Neither the Gambian state nor the Senegalese state is benefiting from the war. In fact, the fighting among the combatants is resulting in more deaths and arrests than there engagement with the states. Many Gambians have died because of landmines and neighbouring Gambian villages have experienced relative insecurity and invasion of refuges from the border area. The addiction of Gambian youths from Narcotics peddled from the border area constitutes a social menace that is not serving the interest of either state. The recent discovery of arms and ammunition abandoned in gardens of Gambian women and other farm lands pose a real threat to the population of the Gambia . There is no doubt that it is in the interest of the Gambian people to have a developed Casamance which would be able to guarantee the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of her people. Few Gambians would support the continuation of war in Casamance. The analysts should not attack the Gambian people or the Senegalese people. They should say that the two countries are yet to have governments which have put the mission to end the Casamance crisis at the top of the agenda. This is why the state to state relation of the two governments continues to vacillate from cooperation to confrontation. These policies are the creation of states not the people. If the state to people´s relation was such that the policies of the Governments emanate from the people then there would be no war in Casamance. What is therefore necessary is for the fraternal people to people relation which exists between the two peoples to continue and mutual solidarity be shown to have their civil, political, economic, social and social rights safeguarded. This is what all mature Senegalese and Gambians should advocate for and propagate to ensure lasting peace in our sub-region and beyond.