Monday, May 16, 2016

Gambia and Senegal fail to reach agreement on border closure; next round of negotiations in July, meanwhile borders remain closed

Foreign Ministers McDoull-Gaye of Gambia  SenegalGaye and Ndiaye 
The 14-hour talks between Gambia and Senegal on the 13-week old border closure lasted until the wee hours of Monday morning without reaching an agreement.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for July which means the borders between the two countries will remain closed until then, assuming that the two countries would reach an agreement then.

The Gambian delegation led by Foreign Minister, Neneh McDoull-Gaye, comprised of the Finance and Interior Ministers were limited in their ability to freely negotiate because of the restrictions in areas that Jammeh would not wish to negotiate.  A member of the Gambian delegation was reportedly heard muttering the words "no room to negotiate."

In fact, initially, Mrs. McDoull-Gaye was seen coming out of the closed-door meeting to place calls, undoubtedly, to the Gambian dictator for instructions on matters that should have been within the purview of the Gambian delegation to make deals with their Senegalese counterparts.

Senegal came armed with 11- points that they wanted to discuss and agree on with The Gambia.  As we have been reporting for a great while now, what started as the 10,000% increase in the tariff structure by Jammeh without proper notification has morphed into what is the main demand of the Senegal Transport Union i.e.  kick-starting of the TransGambia bridge building project.  Jammeh had already rolled back the ridiculously high tariff rate which was not only ill-advised but created a problem that has turned into a nightmare for his beleaguered regime, both on the economic and diplomatic fronts.

It is being reported that both sides have found "common ground" on several key issues.  It is unclear, as at the time of posting this blog, what those common grounds are from Senegal's 11 points that ranged from the bridge to judicial cooperation that includes the release of a Senegalese criminal named "Boy Djine"who escaped from prison and reported taking refuge in The Gambia under the protection of Yaya Jammeh.

By emphasizing the"inclusive"nature of the talks, Senegal has succeeded in taking on-board the main demand of the Senegalese Transport Union, that is the resumption of works on the bridge, and has exploited the rapidly evolving and shifting political landscape in Banjul to present an expansive menu to its advantage.

Finally, Jammeh wish to have the border open before the fast approaching Holy Month of Ramadan appears to remain unfulfilled which can only add to his political woes.  He is facing the real threat of targeted sanctions including possible travel ban on key official of Jammeh's regime in addition to the protest demonstrations organized and led by the opposition United Democratic Party to demand the release of its leader and other party members among numerous other demands.  It is going to be rough times ahead for the Gambia dictator as his political and diplomatic isolation deepens in the weeks and months ahead. .