Casamance rebel leader’s son arrested, dismissed from Gambia’s army

The son of a separatist general in the southern Senegalese region of Casamance has been dismissed from the Gambia’s army and is being detained by authorities in the West African nation.

Omar Sadio is the son of the leader of the MFDC rebel group, Salif Sadio. Salif Sadio is leading a faction of the separatist group that is fighting for the independence the Casamance region from Dakar.

Omar Sadio is held at the State Intelligence Services in the Gambia’s capital, Banjul, where he is also being interrogated by special agents of the bureau.

It has been long speculated that Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh has been enlisting Senegalese citizens from Casamance into the army. He is also accused of supporting rebels with firearms and financing their activities.

Omar Sadio was enlisted into the Gambia’s military in 2005 and had been stationed in the northern Gambian city of Farafenni, close to the country’s border with Senegal and most recently, stationed a barracks near the country’s only airport in Yundum.

Jammeh had mediated between Senegalese authorities and rebel leader Sadio’s faction of separatist securing the release of at least three Senegalese soldiers held by the MFDC.

Salifu Sadio had asked for the new government to allow them to use The Gambia as a transit point to peace talks in Casamance. Gambian authorities say they are open to any initiative that seeks to bring the Casamance crisis to an end.

Relations between Dakar and Banjul were sour until Jammeh’s unceremonious ouster in January over the Casamance crisis. The strained relations were further agitated by frequent border closures, illegal timber exportations, border disputes, and the supply of Iran weapons to the rebels by Jammeh.

Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow is purging the army of Jammeh’s loyalists, most of them said to have been corruptly recruited to give the former authoritarian ruler a firm grip on power.

Gambian authorities have dismissed at least seven soldiers suspected of espionage this week. New findings show that at least 23 soldiers loyal to Jammeh are also being detained for plotting to revolt against President Adama Barrow.

Barrow is under the protection of West African troops, mostly Senegalese soldiers that helped him to dislodge Jammeh. He has extended their mandate to next year and widened it to help him enforce security sector reforms.

Since his coming to power, The Gambia and Senegal have signed a handful of security cooperations to help both countries secure their nations and bring an end to the Casamance crisis.

(Reporting and Writing by Lamin Jassey; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)

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