The Senegalese Government have extracted a pledge to lay down arms and work for definitive return of peace in the South of Senegal as it signs a peace agreement with the Casamance rebels based there.
An emissary of the Senegalese President Macky Salla and the Rebl leader Cesar Atoute Badiate, head of a unit of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) signed the peace agreement at the presidency of the Guinea-Bissau Republic.
The Head of State of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who is the current president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said that the fighting was enough.
“You went into the bush when I was 10 years old. Today I am 50. I think that’s enough now. (…) How many people have died, been maimed or left their villages? We will accompany you in the search for peace.
“I can assure you that we are going to be the guarantors of this agreement.”
President Macky Sall of Senegal, who had made the “definitive peace” in Casamance one of the priorities of his second term, welcomed the peace agreement with a tweet.
“I welcome the peace agreement and the laying down of arms signed on 4 August in Bissau between Senegal and the provisional committee of the political and fighting wings of the MFDC. I remain committed to the consolidation of lasting peace in Casamance,” President Macky Sall tweeted on Thursday evening, also thanking Umaro Sissoco Embalo for his mediation.
The MFDC has been waging a low-intensity conflict since 1982, causing several thousand deaths. This conflict remained latent until the launch in January 2021 by the Senegalese army of a major offensive against the rebels.
The Casamance rebels, accused of trafficking in timber and cannabis, have often taken refuge in Gambia or Guinea-Bissau, which also shares a border with Senegal.
Casamance was a Portuguese possession for several centuries before being ceded to the French colonial empire in 1888 and then integrated into Senegal at the time of its independence in 1960.
ECOWAS took to twitter to congratulate the parties on the agreement.
The ECOWAS Commission congratulates the people of Senegal for the smooth running of the legislative elections of July 31, 2022 and for the peaceful atmosphere that reigned throughout the electoral process.
She takes this opportunity to call on the various political actors in Senegal to continue to place their trust in the country’s institutions for the transparent settlement of any post-electoral claim.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur