Ali_HaidarBy Abdoulie John

The alarming signals sent by former Senegalese environment minister Haidar El Ali over a possible Casamance forest depletion in the next two years have sparked reactions from activists and politicians who are pointing accusing finger at President Yahya Jammeh for allowing ‘an illegal activity’ to take place in the Gambia.

“Gambian authorities should be held accountable for allowing the selling of timbers from Senegal’s protected areas via Banjul,” Amnesty-Senegal Director Seydi Gassama said.

On Thursday, Senegal’s former environment minister and activist disturbing account of the rapid depletion of the forest in the troubled Casamance mainly due to illegal timber sales from Senegal to the Gambia. These revelations come at a time when the three month-long border blockade came to an end, resulting to resumption of traffic between the two neighbouring countries.

Seydi Gassama said the Jammeh regime is aware of the illegal trade, and continues to play a key role in the export of logs through Banjul port. “Even if the activity has provided an economic boost to the Gambia, it remains illegal and is against both regional and international laws.”

Gassama also blamed the Senegalese government for failing to take action against an activity that is bound to destroy people’s livelihood.

Former Gambian plenipotentiary to Taiwan Essa Bokkar Sey blasted Gambian authorities for masterminding the illegal logging activity in connection with Chinese syndicates. “Indeed the crime is being coordinated by Banjul’s Cartel in collaboration with Chinese lumberjacks,” he said.

He then warned that worse days are lying ahead between the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh and the Senegalese State.

Over these past years, the Casamance crisis has increasingly been turned into lucrative business activity by Banjul. The Gambia in deepening its involvement in the timber industry raises concerns over ecological crimes being committed in Southern Senegal with the destruction of the existing ecosytems…

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