Senegal Gov’t and Jakai Rebel Faction to Sign Peace Deal this week


By Amadou Jallow 

Coordinator of a Ziguinchor-based civil society organization on peacebuilding in the Senegambia region, COSPAC, said his organization had reached a peace deal with the government of Senegal and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) rebel faction, Jakai, which will be signed this weekend.


Addressing peace advocates from Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea Bissau at a forest and peace festival in a Senegalese village of Kujube on Friday, Harry Ndecky said the deal would be a step in the realization of their three years effort of negotiation between the government of Senegal and the rebel faction.


The rebellion in Casamance will enter its 41st year since its commencement in 1981, leading to the birth of several civil society organizations who continue to search for peaceful solutions to the conflict through engagements and organization of peace talks in The Gambia and Senegal. Since the commencement of the insurgency, thousands of people, including civilians, have been killed, and the disappearance of dozens of others.


Young People organized the Friday Forest and peace festival without Borders, a youth-led community-based organization in Siffoe, in partnership with COSPAC, with funding from the American Jewish World Service.


Mr. Ndecky said the peace agreement would be signed in the village of Jakai this Saturday, 13th May, saying his organization is satisfied with the abundant space that both the Senegal government and the Jakai rebel faction provided them to do the mediation.


Last year, peace advocates in search of solutions for lasting peace in the Senegambia region, particularly in Casamance, gathered in Siffoe to strengthen discussions on peace, where they observed that only peaceful negotiations could help establish peace in the area. During that synergy, participants discussed how to unite toward sustaining peace in the region and beyond. 

The negotiations further engaged authorities in both Gambia and Senegal to discourage unnecessary checkpoints and encourage the free movement of people.


“The peace deal will contain conditions including provision of birth certificates to people who could not have access due to instability, peaceful return of all refugees, bringing of development projects in the Casamance region and reintegrating rebels into meaningful engagements,” Mr. Ndecky said.


He said next week, road construction works would commence in some parts of communities in Casamance as part of the deal’s conditions, saying they consider their actions worthy of engagement that they hope can provide lasting peace in the region.


Towards the end of last year, several fighting erupted between the Senegalese military force and one of the rebel factions in the region, killing and capturing some soldiers. The military later launched an offensive on the rebels. Since then, the leader Salifu Sarjo has not been heard, with people suspecting he may have been killed during the offensive.


Chairperson of Young People Without Borders, Kalifa Kanteh, said their role in peace advocacy within the Senegambia region has been constant and active because they envisaged attaining a peaceful Senegambia through their peace talks.


Last year, the Senegal army captured several rebel posts and camps around Badème and along the border between Bagame and Bouniak. The offensive left two military personnel wounded, one stepping on a land mine and the other shot.


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