Senegal signed a peace deal in Bissau on Thursday, August 4, with Casamance rebels led by Guinea-Bissau’s president, UmaroSissoco Embaló, also president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). These have pledged to lay down their arms and work for the eventual return of peace to this region. Casamance is the scene of one of the oldest active African rebellions.
as reported from Bissau,Allen Yero Embalo
For Senegal, Admiral Farba Sarr initialed the document. On the independence side, César Atoute Badiate, head of the Southern Front, and Lansana Fabouré of the MFDC Provisional Committee for Political and Fighting Wings.
The document, titled “Agreement to Lay Down Arms,” remains confidential for now because discussions must continue with other factions of the movement.
By signing the agreement, the rebels pledged to lay down their arms and work for the eventual return of peace to this southern region of Senegal. Its application will undergo the identification and census of combatants and their leaders, under the supervision of Guinea-Bissau, from 1 October 2022.
For President Embaló, who presided over the ceremony, a page of history has just been turned. Guinea-Bissau will be the guarantor party and must be involved in the effective application of the agreement.
In the name of the consolidation of peace in Casamance, and through the mediation we have initiated, the Peace and Ceasefire Agreement was signed on August 4, 2022 in Bissau between Senegal and the Provisional Committee of Wings MFDC politicians and combatants. pic.twitter.com/Oecys4tYHO
— Umaro Sissoco Embaló (@USEmbalo) August 4, 2022
The Senegalese authorities have assured that all conditions will be created to ensure the implementation of this agreement. But the Northern Front, the hardline wing of the movement led by Salif Sadio, does not feel worried. In this case, can peace be achieved without this faction, which is considered the most radical of the independence movement?
The rebel leader has disappeared from the radar since the outbreak of a major offensive by the Senegalese army last March against his bases near the Gambian border. But according to a source familiar with the matter, behind-the-scenes negotiations are underway to get dissidents from his faction to join the peace process.
For many observers, the Bissau agreements are an important step in the peace process, but the most important thing has yet to come, namely the recovery of weapons and ammunition.
The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) has been waging a low-intensity conflict in the southern region of Senegal since 1982. A conflict that has caused several thousand deaths and displaced people.
Update on rebel groups in Senegal For the researcher Jean-Claude Marut, a specialist in this conflict, we cannot really talk about a peace agreement or even a ceasefire. He believes that this “rather looks like a surrender of one of the main components of the rebellion, in this case the main armed component of southern Casamance”.
As far as I know, this is neither a peace treaty nor even a ceasefire. It looks more like a surrender of one of the main components of the rebellion, in this case the main armed component of southern Casamance. I think we still need to put the significance of the event into perspective, although it is important, albeit symbolically…
Jean-Claude Marut: “Talking about a peace agreement seems to me a bit exaggerated…”