By Our Banjul Bureau Chief Landing Badjie.

In what appeared to be a diplomatic retaliation against the impoverished nation of the Gambia, The Senegalese authorities have detained 14 Gambian trucks, who were trying to cross to the Southern Province of Casamance, amidst accusations and counter accusations between the two sister countries of  alleged subversive activities to destabilize the two nations. Dozens of Gambian truckers suspected of fanning the Casamance decade long war are currently being held by the Senegalese authorities on the grounds of  armed trafficking and subversive activities, the Freedom Newspaper can authoritatively reveal.

The detainees were accused of being “agents of the Gambian Government who supply arms and ammunition to the MFDC rebel faction” which is linked to genocidal activities  in that region over the years. Hundred of people, mainly women, children and the elderly  have so far perished from  the decade long war. Some have their hands chopped, maimed and raped by the MFDC rebels in the name of securing independence of Casamance.

The Senegalese authorities have impounded the 14 trucks and are currently investigating the detainees. Reports reaching this paper say the trucks were impounded in Cassamance on  suspicion that their owners were aiding and abetting the conflict in the region that claimed countless lives and properties since it’s eruption in the early 80’s. The privately-owned trucks were engaged in the transportation of charcoal, firewood and other forest resources from the province into The Gambia. But Senegalese border agents say the truckers were undercover agents “hell bent on destabilizing Casamance.” with the alleged supply of deadly arms to the MFDC rebels. The Senegalese authorities are also suspicious that these truck drivers are also engaged in some nefarious practices such as smuggling of cannabis sativa to the neighboring Gambia. It is gathered that the truckers work hand in hand with the rebels to smuggle the Cannabis into the Gambia and most of its proceeds were used for the “purchasing of arms” to equip their men in the bush.

The MFDC budget is mainly derived from the sale of Cannabis, as they operated hectares of Cannabis plantation in Casamance. Most of their harvest are usually destined to the Gambia, where the rebel faction recruited its agents for the sale of such “illegal narcotics.” Though, there is no evidence linking the Gambian government to aiding the rebels, but what is certain is that the Gambia has been a save heaven for the MFDC fighters. Cannabis and forest resources are seen as the lifeline for the separatist rebel movement presently engaged in sporadic gun fight with the Senegalese government  forces.

As we file in this piece, both the Gambian and the Senegalese authorities were yet to react to the development that is now a subject of discussion in many quarters. The current relationship between The Gambia and Senegal is  marked by an increasing suspicion with rumors of war spreading every day. The citizens of both countries are expecting their respective governments to convene a meeting, in which issues of extremely vital significance revolving  around the maintenance of the good neighborliness between the two states  could be discussed.

It would be recalled that the Gambian government recently accused their neighbor of harboring Gambian dissidents who they claimed were “hell-bent on destabilizing The Gambia.”  A pro-government newspaper, The Daily Observer, wrote that the dissidents were holding series of meetings in Dakar  to draw a road-map for the undemocratic removal of President Jammeh from power. According to Observer, the mastermind of the foiled March 22 putsch, Col.Ndure Cham, is one of the dissidents that are now having regular meetings in Dakar and that Abdoulie Wade had vowed never to hand over the men to the  Gambian authorities. Dakar is yet to comment on the pro-government newspaper’s allegation.

Posted on Monday, June 25, 2007 (Archive on Sunday, July 08, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
Be Sociable, Share!