Friday, March 4, 2016

Border closure: Gambia’s sovereignty is not the issue, Jammeh is the issue.

Sidi Sanneh 

Yaya Jammeh poses a greater threat to Gambia’s sovereignty than Senegal ever could.  The Gambia has coexisted with its neighbor since Independence, and at no time during the 50-odd years of coexistence was its sovereignty threatened, including the 1981 Kukoi Samba Sanyang’s coup that saw Senegalese troops marched into the country under legal cover of a common defense pack to restore Sir Dawda Jawara to the presidency.

Senegal’s 1981 intervention, grounded in international law and backed by a bilateral Agreement, resulted in a short-lived Senegambia Confederation from which Senegal withdrew from voluntarily, peacefully and without fanfare.  If the handling of the dissolution of the Confederation is not enough evidence that Senegal is not a threat to Gambia’s sovereignty, we do not know what is.

We must appreciate a truism is Senegambian relations that the two countries are captives of their own geography and history – two factors that are inextricably linked to and also greatly influence the respective foreign and economic policies of The Gambia and Senegal.  These two countries are unique in that sense compared to a few countries in the world.

Fortunately, Sir Dawda Jawara and successive Senegalese presidents from Senghore to Sall understood the need to maintain the delicate relationship through regular diplomatic consultations, a diplomatic necessity that has been absent to a large degree during Jammeh’s 22 years of dictatorship.  This, in our view, is the cause of the deterioration in relations – both diplomatic and economic – between Gambia and Senegal.