Saturday, March 5, 2016

Jammeh envoys fail to secure Macky Sall's cooperation; borders remain closed

Gambia - Senegal border closure 

The Gambian dictator fielded two successive missions to Senegal in the past week and a half.  The first was led by Pap Demba Jobe, the Special Representative of the Mourid sect in The Gambia and the other by Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy. Both missions failed.  It appears that Senegal is in no mood to receive Jammeh's envoys much less negotiate with Jammeh.  

According to our sources, the Pap Demba Jobe’s mission visited Touba, Tivavon and Kaolack to solicit the support of the religious leaders of the Mourids, Tedianis and Niassen sects to plead with the Senegalese president Macky Sall on behalf of Jammeh.  

Reports have it that the mission failed to achieve its primary object of getting the religious leaders to intervene in the current stalemate that has led to the borders between the two countries being closed.

The failure of Pap Demba Jobe’s mission led Jammeh to dispatch his Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy last Wednesday and returned yesterday (Friday) without seeing any senior official of Macky Sall’s government.

Two successive failed missions underscore the nature of the latest border stand-off, triggered by the unilateral decision of the Gambian dictator’s that saw a 1,000% tariff increase on Senegalese  trucks using the TransGambia highway that traverses Gambia into the southern part of Senegal. 

The frequent use of unilateral tariff increases by Jammeh without prior consultation or notification of his neighbors is finally being seen by the authorities in Dakar as a cudgel that is used at will that threatens the economic security of Senegal.

In this regard, Senegal has now decided to remove all taxes on gas oil to help reduce the cost for Senegalese trucks having to bypass Gambian territory by transporting goods around it via Tambacounda. This facility will be available for the next two years should the borders be closed for that long.  This decision suggests that Senegal is getting ready to hunker down for the long-haul. 

“These borders” according to a senior government official, “will remain shut for a very long time. He (Jammeh) has tested our patience for a very long time.”  

Meanwhile, Gambia’s National Electricity Company, NAWEC, has informed Jammeh that it will soon run out of fuel which normally comes from or via Senegal.  If the borders aren’t open for any extended period of time, Gambia will be plunged into darkness unless enough foreign exchange – already in short supply – is scrapped to order an emergency consignment in the open market.  Either way, Jammeh has managed to place himself and his country between a rock and a hard place.

We will continue to monitor developments.