Gambia, Senegal plans to mend fences after strained relations

Gambia, Senegal plans to mend fences after strained relations

Gambia’s vice presidential pick Fatoumata Tambajang has conferred with the Senegalese President Macky Sall as the two nations work towards strengthening relations.

Senegal-Gambia relations under former President Yahya Jammeh were, for the most part, controversial. The governments of at least two Senegalese presidents and President Yahya Jammeh were at odds over the protection of his perceived enemies by Senegalese authorities.

Border closures and disputes became prevalent, the last of which went on for at least three months, disrupting businesses and the Gambian economy.

Jammeh had ideas that strained Senegambia relations and left to him, the end game could be far-far worse than we have now.

Senegal-Gambia relations were in the midst of what can be described as a neighborly feud with President Yahya Jammeh accused of funding, harboring and arming separatist rebels in Senegal’s southern Casamance region.

Jammeh accused Senegal’s Abdoulie Wade and Macky Sall of harboring dissidents, including former soldiers who attempted to overthrow him, journalists, rights defenders and political opponents.

The Gambia has also been implicated in the illegal timber trade that has depleted the Casamance forest.

Senegal played the most important role in the international effort to oust Jammeh after he lost the presidential election in December. Senegal rallied the UN Security Council to support the winner, Adama Barrow and led the ECOWAS military intervention to uphold the outcome of the polls.

Senegal became a safe haven for Barrow during the political turmoil. He was sworn-in at the Gambia’s embassy in Dakar.

President Barrow has since returned to Banjul and taken power. He is finding that the foreign policy challenges created by Jammeh must be fixed.

While Barrow has to fix domestic policies as well, he and Sall are set to become key allies and develop free trade deals and address the Casamance crisis with hopes of bringing it to an end.

They will face challenges from some who say Senegal is occupying Gambia and remotely controlling Barrow. They are a group of people attempting to set off new tensions with a series of conflicting signals and false starts to disturb the new found brotherhood between the two nations.

Some of them, like former AFPRC Junta Spokesperson Ebou Jallow, suggest that that the Barrow administration is not in control of security in the country, as most Gambians praise President Macky Sall for resolving the political crisis.

But Sall and Barrow made it clear that they will deal with the Senegambian issues together and with maturity.

Senegal and The Gambia share historical and cultural heritage that the leaders of the two nations hope will result in one of the most stable and mutually beneficial international relationships in the world.

Tourism and migration between the two nations may increase rapport as they share culture and tradition, and it seems Sall and Barrow will share warm personal relations and also close ties between their administrations.

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