Senegalese President welcoming his Gambian counterpart Yahya Jammeh, May 3, 2012 in Dakar.

By Roger Benjamin

No love between the two Presidents. Macky Sall declined to grace the 50th independence celebration of The Gambia, but with good reasons.

Invited to the official celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Gambian independence on Wednesday in Banjul Senegalese President Macky Sall, declined the invitation of his counterpart Yahya Jammeh. One more hitch in the relationship seen between the two heads of state.

The media were quick to suggest a warming of relations between the two men. But the warning was not taken seriously and nothing happened to fix the bad blood. President Sall was refused to attend The Gambia’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Hr was instead represented by Prime Minister Mahammed Dionne and Souleymane Jules Diop, Minister Responsible for Senegalese abroad.

In Dakar, in the president’s entourage, is mentioned, besides the traditional council of milinear Wednesday, “a busy schedule and stopped for a long time on the tour in Casamance.” Macky Sall will perform in fact, from 19 to 25 February, a week-long trip in the southernmost part of the country, wedged between Gambia and Guinea Bissau and agitated by a rebellion since 1980.

Senegalese President Macky Sall took office April 2, 2012. © AFP

A helping hand for Jammeh

The absence of the Senegalese head of state in the fiftieth anniversary of the Gambia’s independence, which are expected counterparts Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone), John Dramani Mahama (Ghana), Alpha Condé (Guinea), Jose Mario Vaz (Guinea Bissau ) or Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz (Mauritania), is a further episode in the relationship serrated he has with Yahya Jammeh since he came to business, in April 2012.

Everything started off well between “Macky” and his neighbor, who heads the Gambia with an iron fist for more than twenty years . April 15, 2012, just days after taking office, Senegalese President had made his first official foreign trip to Banjul. With this courtesy visit, shaped tense Jammeh hand, the new head of state and showed his goodwill toward his host, who moved to turn in early May in Dakar.

The three visits Macky in Banjul

This desire to establish a peaceful relationship between the two countries quickly fell into the rushing waters of the River Gambia. In August, 2012, the unpredictable Yahya Jammeh decides to execute nine death row, including two Senegalese. Macky Sall and his family are furious and scathing statement from the president. “It is with dismay that I learned of the execution of death row inmates in The Gambia, which included two of our countrymen. We were surprised by the contempt of the Gambian authorities against Senegal, which should have been at least informed of the decision through appropriate channels such as the Vienna Convention of 1963 on Consular Relations and the spirit of good neighborliness. ”

It had taken several months for Senegal to build confidence in its immediate neighbour. Jammeh first scored in December 2012 when he facilitated the release of eight Senegalese soldiers held by the rebel Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). In February 2013, President Sall formally eased his anger on Jammeh. Sall was received with great pomp and honors in Banjul during The Gambia’s 48th years of nationhood. He returned a third time in October 2014.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has been in power since July 1994. © AFP

Carrot and stick

Since then, relations between the two neighbors are far from cordial and foremost dictated by real politic. “The Senegalese have never really had a choice: they perfectly know they need Gambians to settle the conflict in Casamance,” said a diplomat in the region. Forced to deal with unsavory Jammeh, Macky thus wields the carrot and stick to try to find compromises. For his part, the President of the Gambia, which many describe as paranoid and irrational, blows hot and cold depending on his mood or needs.

Last misstep in the Senegal-Gambia hesitant waltz is the accusation by Yahya Jammeh about Dakar’s indirect role in the December 30th failed coup in The Gambia. Jammeh punched Dakar authorities on the face accusing them of hosting the coupists. For their part, Senegalese officials say they were taken by surprise, they were not aware of anything. “In fact, they could do without Jammeh and would not have been so unhappy that the coup succeed,” said our diplomatic source. This is probably not the recent decision of the Gambian president dictator to cancel the construction of the bridge over the River Gambia, vital for the Senegalese, which will make them think otherwise.

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Roger Benjamin

Lire l’article sur Jeuneafrique.com : Sénégal – Gambie | Macky Sall et Yaya Jammeh : “Je t’aime, moi non plus” | Jeuneafrique.com – le premier site d’information et d’actualité sur l’Afrique
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