Friday, May 13, 2016

Guinean president Conde on a one-day visit to Banjul on border closure plaguing a beleaguered Jammeh

Guinean president Alpha Conde
President Alpha Conde of Guinea is scheduled to be in Banjul tomorrow for a one-day trip to debrief Jammeh on the outcome of his Dakar mission to convince his Senegal counterpart to re-open the 12-week old border closure.

Contrary to public utterances and posturing, the border closure is Jammeh's primary preoccupation which he wants reopened before the beginning of the month of Ramadan which, this year, will commence the second week of June.  This explains the reason why the frantic shuttle diplomacy that he has asked his friend Conde to conduct on his behalf.

The closure has drastically reduced government revenue and has resulted in bankruptcies and related economic hardships, especially in the immediate vicinity of the border towns in both countries along the TransGambia route.

Last week Macky Sall rebuffed his Guinean counterpart's appeal on behalf of the Gambian dictator to reopen the border.  You can find that blog post here. The former president of Benin Yayi Boni also tried his luck on behalf of Jammeh to Sall without success.

A Gambian delegation comprising of the Interior and Finance Ministers and led by the Foreign Minister were in Dakar for preliminary talks.  The initial session ended in failure to agree on the venue for the negotiations.  Senegal expected them to take place in Dakar and initially suggested by Jammeh only to change his mind and asked that the venue be Banjul. When Senegal objected, Jammeh decided not to rock the boat any further that led to immediate recapitulation.  When the negotiations will commence is unclear.

The one-day visit by Conde is seen as a debriefing session but also as a meeting to discuss strategy and to counsel his idiosyncratic and undependable friend to be on his best behavior because of his weak negotiating position.  Senegal is holding all the cards.

Our source has just confirmed that the private tete-a-tete will take place tomorrow at the Coco Ocean Hotel in Bijilo soon after his arrival from Conakry in the early hours of the morning and to return to Conakry by noon.