By Own Correspondent – The Gambia Government Wednesday issued a statement on Senegalese President Abdoulie Wade and his government for not reciprocating the goodwill, sincerity and brotherhood Gambians offer to their Senegalese brothers.
The statement, which outlined government’s position on Senegal, was read on GRTS by Dr Njogu Bah, Secretary-General and Head of the Civil Service. It highlighted, among other things, issues relating to the crisis in Casamance, the two rebel factions (Jakai and MFDC) in Casamance, Wade’s hostility towards The Gambia and Gambian dissidents being given sanctuary in Senegal by the Wade government.
Below we reproduce the full text of the statement:
Our position since 1994 has been and will always be to work harmoniously with the government and people of Senegal for the rapid socio-economic development of our two peoples, who are one people.
To this end, both Gambians and Senegalese stand as living witnesses to our numerous multi-million dollar projects contracted to Senegalese companies up to date. In addition to the above, the government went a step further to treat Senegalese citizens in The Gambia just like Gambians by waiving certain taxes that foreigners in The Gambia have to pay.
Unfortunately, our goodwill, sincerity and brotherhood towards our Senegalese brothers have never been reciprocated by the government of Senegal from that of President Abdou Diouf to that of Abdoulie Wade.
Things are worse under Abdoulie Wade, who harbours nothing good towards The Gambia and her people. His clear manifestation of hostility towards The Gambia was made very clear by President Wade himself during an interview on a French TV station LCI in his official trip to France as President when he was asked what his mission to France was and what he expects the French government to do for him and this was his response. “I am here to request the government of France under Jacques Chirac to give me sophisticated arms to modernize the Senegalese armed forces in preparation for The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania.”
Since then, Wade has managed to destabilise Guinea Bissau and Mauritania but failed to achieve his hostile objectives against The Gambia despite his continued efforts to do so as evidenced by the testimonies of the 21st March coup plotters, whose leader Colonel Ndure Cham and his accomplice are given sanctuary until now by President Wade and his government.
It is an open secret that under Abdoulie Wade, Senegal has become the safest haven for Gambian dissidents and criminals fleeing justice. It is also the conference centre for all anti-Gambian elements.
Gambians and Senegalese would remember that in 2005, President Wade in his desperate and frantic attempts to make the Gambian economy suffer in order to bring hardship to the Gambians including Senegalese, who in their thousands call The Gambia home, closed the border.
He did not stop at that but mounted a smear campaign globally against The Gambia. When this failed to materialise, he instigated Senegalese to attack the Gambian players and their supporters in Dakar that led to serious injuries and damage of their buses and coaches that took them to Dakar. Before the ill-fated Gambia-Senegal match, President Abdoulie Wade, on Senegalese radio and television, told the Senegalese national team that it was not a game of football but a war on The Gambia.
President Abdoulie Wade goes around the world claiming to be a Pan-Africanist apparently in total disregard to the stark realities of his anti-African, anti-Gambian stance.
With regard to Casamance, our position has always been and will continue to be the search for a peaceful solution and not violence. This did not please former President Diouf and his government, who preferred a military solution and wanted The Gambia under the APRC government to join them. When we refused to join them because we do not subscribe to violence to solve any problem, we were accused of supporting the MFDC because the President of The Gambia is a Jola.
We did not succumb to blackmail and therefore continue to refuse to join them and pursue mediation as the only viable solution beneficial to both sides. These accusations ranging from supplying arms as well as training MFDC rebels were intensified under the current Senegalese government under the leadership of President Abdoulie Wade despite our goodwill towards the Senegalese people evidence of which is the hundreds of thousands of Senegalese people, who live, work and earn a living in The Gambia without harassment.
Senegalese are found eking out a living in all our economic sectors ranging from petty trade, major trade, the construction industry, fisheries and tourism just to name a few. What do the Gambians get from Abdoulie Wade’s government? More hostility and a sinister obsession to see The Gambia destroyed with little consideration for the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of Senegalese citizens who call The Gambia home.
Worse still, even Senegalese visiting The Gambia cannot be given gifts like sugar and clothing because even though they are gifts, they would be seized by the Senegalese customs. Even though there are a lot of Senegalese made goods in The Gambia, President Abdoulie Wade’s government will not allow even a needle from The Gambia to be traded in Senegal.
Despite all of President Abdoulie Wade’s sweet talks during his recent visits to The Gambia, he is still very hostile to The Gambia as evidenced by his recent moves and that is his letter to the United Nations accusing The Gambia of buying long range rockets and other sophisticated weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran apparently basing his arguments on the arms discovered in the Federal Republic of Nigeria despite the documentary evidence to the contrary, as the bailiff clearly stated who the consignee is for the arms shipment in Nigeria.
If those arms were for The Gambia, let it be clear that there is no power on earth that would have prevented The Gambia from negotiating with the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their release to The Gambia.
The real truth – and Allah is our witness – is that those arms were addressed to Nigeria and that is why the containers were discharged in the port of Lagos.
Unfortunately, Abdoulie Wade decided to disregard this fact and jumped to his illogical and outrageous conclusions apparently blinded by his hatred of The Gambia. The Republic of The Gambia is a sovereign state with the same rights that all independent states have to arm themselves according to their needs and The Gambia cannot and will not be dictated to by any state not to arm or what types of arms we should purchase irrespective of what is going on in a neighboring country, especially Casamance. Alas, President Abdoulie Wade thinks that he can use the arms shipment from Iran in Nigeria to go round the world through envoys to mount a campaign against The Gambia.
With regard to the crisis in Casamance, which has occasioned outrageous atrocities with the complicity of two Western powers, it will be interesting for the Gambians, the international community but more so the Senegalese people to know the naked truth that from 1994 to date, we have made it very clear that neither the Senegalese troops, nor the MFDC would use the Gambian soil as a base to wage war. Evidence of this position is the successful arrests and prosecution of any Casamance rebel found in the Gambian territory and their conviction by the competent Gambian courts.
Interestingly enough, President Abdoulie Wade has been sending special envoys appealing for the release of the so-called MFDC rebels convicted and sentenced to various prison terms for entering the Gambia armed as well as arms incursion into Gambian territory. Why? Because in the Casamance, there are two factions the people needs to know.
One is MFDC fighting for independence and another called the Jakai group trained, armed and paid by the Senegalese government. We have evidence of that and you would find in this document list of individual rebels being paid by the Senegalese government from 2003, their names and the amount they have been receiving from the government of President Abdoulie Wade. From 2003 to 2006, they have been receiving payments, salaries from the Senegalese government and we have many more of these.
This group also calls itself MFDC Jakai is the group that is carrying out outrageous atrocities against unarmed Casamance civilians suspected of sympathizing with the independence seeking MFDC. As far back as 2003, one member of the Jakai group who was very notorious in Casamance for his outrageous brutality against civilians by the name Borry Kambel, whose preferred methods included castrating his male victims, forcing them to dig their own graves before murdering them, was arrested in The Gambia and handed over to Abdoulie Wade’s government to be tried for his outrageous crimes.
He was released without trial by President Abdoulie Wade and sent back to Casamance a free man. Why? Because he was found to be a member of the Senegalese government sponsored rebel group. That is why we decided to try them if any rebel enters into the Gambian territory armed or uses Gambian territory as a base for operations in the Casamance.
One of the original commanders of this Jakai rebel group, Suwaibou Jatta, commonly known as “Kamongoya”, was arrested and detained in The Gambia together with his aides in 2004. Surprisingly, President Abdoulie Wade sent several envoys appealing for their release under the pretext that only their release would facilitate negotiations with the MFDC. We subsequently released them only for President Wade to put a price of several millions CFA Franc on Salifu Sarjo’s head. Suwaibou Jatta returned to Casamance to regain command of the Jakai group. We then realised how defective President Abdoulie Wade is.
When those so-called MFDC rebels commanded by Mai Jammeh who were using Gambian territories as a base were arrested and charged, it was the same President Wade who was frantically sending envoys to us to appeal for their release but we refused. They were convicted and sentenced to jail terms. Until recently, Abdoulie Wade has been appealing to us either by phone or through special envoys to release them but we refused and we will continue to refuse.
The Casamance crisis has unfortunately become a money-making enterprise for some bigwigs high up the Senegalese government. Casamance has become a big plantation for marijuana, where certain rebel factions, especially Jakai, openly cultivate, processed and export cannabis with impunity. Evidence of this; just last September in intensifying our war on drugs, we discovered a sophisticated drugs factory in a village in Foni shadowing the Casamance-Gambia border but both the factory and the warehouse were on the Senegalese side of the border. We decided to inform President Wade in writing and a proposed a joint raid on the village. That the Senegalese troops to raid the factory and the warehouse on the Senegalese side of the village while the National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA) backed by the Gambia Armed Forces would raid the Gambian side.
A date was arranged and both the Gambian Chief of Defence Staff and his Senegalese counterpart worked out plans. Four days before the raid, President Wade called President Jammeh on the phone asking for the raid to be put off until his return from a foreign trip as he President Wade wanted to coordinate the raid on the Senegalese side himself.
A new date was set. Guess what? On the day, the NDEA backed by the Gambian armed forces raided the Gambian side of the village only to discover that the Senegalese armed forces were nowhere to be seen. A truck load of Cannabis was seized on the Gambian side of the same village whilst the factory and the warehouse on the Senegalese side remained untouched.