Barely two weeks after reports that President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia discreetly had a meeting with a radical Cassamance separatist leader Salifu Sarjo, a badge of mayors from the southern Senegalese region showed up in Banjul with banners denouncing Senegalese President Macky Sall. The Gambian strongman and former junta leader has been supportive of Mr Sarjo’s faction of the MFDC rebels who have been fighting government forces in a low level crisis for autonomy.

The Gambia’s borders with Senegal have been closed for nearly three months and Dakar said it is waiting on a report from ECOWAS over the issue. Authorities in The Gambia increased the tariff for commercial vehicles from $7 to $700 prompting an outcry from Senegal’s transport union leaders. Northern Senegal is separated from the south by The Gambia. It is only a 50 miles trip across The Gambia to get to Cassamance; but the border closure now has travelers going 100 miles around The Gambia.

Decisions by Sall administration not favorable to Jammeh

Senegal has lately taken actions which analysts say will affect President Jammeh’s elicit businesses with the Cassamance rebels he support with arms and logistics. Senegalese troops battled rebels, killing at least a dozen of them, burning their marijuana farms, seizing a cache of weapons and cracking down on illegal timber logging (which is transported to Gambia and sold to Chinese exporters).

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Foreign Affairs

President Yahya Jammeh has now vowed to fund Cassamance mayors’ campaign for office if they organize protests in their cities to force Dakar to reopen the borders. This included an offer to the Mayor of Mboa and Mr Abdoulaye Balde, mayor of the capital of Cassamance, Ziquinchor. Balde is also a member of parliament.

“Cultivating political alliance with the young and politically ambitious Abdoulaye Baldé may be seen as an act of desperation but Jammeh sees in the Mayor of Zinquinchor a useful regional ally with a common enemy in Macky Sall,” observed Sidi Sanneh, who was one time The Gambia’s Ambassador to Senegal.

Yaya Jammeh is instigating politicians from Abdoulaye Baldé's l'Union Centriste du Senegal to return to their localities in the Casamance to agitate, protest with a possibility of strike action against the border closure which they will blame on Macky Sall.”

President Jammeh wants the people of Cassamance to protest but his security forces opened fire and threw tear gas at protesters killing at least three of them.

Those that participated in the protests are being prosecuted, detained at the maximum security wing of a deadly prison, and branded as “bandits who want to destabilize the country” by the Gambia’s government. Activists say Senegalese can demonstrate in Senegal because it is their right and their government respects that but it shows the “hypocrisy and tyranny of President Jammeh,” adding that it proves his government does not protect the constitutional rights of Gambians.

Cassamance intellectuals and leaders have always accused Dakar of isolating them from development, which is focused on the north -- the food basket of the West Africa nation and its biggest tourist destination. President Macky Sall has announced incentives and corporate tax cuts to attract businesses to open in the region especially for agriculture and tourism.

President Yahya Jammeh expressed annoyance at the presence of the Senegalese Majority Leader Mustoha Diahateh’s presence at a #GambiaRising protest in Dakar and has annulled an executive decision to increase tariffs at his country’s borders with Senegal regardless of tonnage from CFA Franc 400,000 (USD $694.92) to the old structure.

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