Sunday, May 8, 2016

Robert Sagna is a frequent guest of Jammeh

Robert Sagna 
Yaya Jammeh is the fuel that keeps the Casamance rebel fire burning by cultivating the political support of mayors, village chiefs and elders, Imams and other local dignitaries and soliciting their support for a closer ethnic unity across the borders of Senegal and The Gambia.

And as long as he continues to succeed in currying favor of the Casamance politicians with his largess that normally takes the form of monthly ration of rice, sugar and cash, the MFDC rebel problem will continue to fester despite Macky Sall's efforts in the military as well as the intelligence sphere.

It is public knowledge that Yaya Jammeh has been meddling in both Senegalese and Bissau Guinean  internal politics since he seized power n 1994.

Over time, however, despite forcibly exerting himself in the sub-regional turmoil of the low-intensity MFDC-fueled conflict, the death of the influential General Ansumana Manneh of Guinea-Bissau, a reliable ally of Jammeh, significantly reduced Jammeh's own influence in the area.

Jammeh has tried and failed to re-inject himself into the internal politics of Guinea Bissau, subsequent to the death of General Ansumana Manneh and the ushering in of the new political dispensation and alliances.

Jammeh invited members of the ruling PAIGC and rival PRS parliamentarians to his native village of Kanilai last October, ostensibly to speak peace to both parties.  Jammeh also tried to interfere in the intra-party dispute within the PAIGC over constitutional issues raised by the firing of Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Periera who was replaced by Baciro Dja which we addressed in a blog post that you can find here.

The opportunistic Yaya Jammeh sees the border closure between Senegal and The Gambia that's in its 12th week as an opportunity to transform it as a Casamance issue by selling it to the local population as a "Casamance issue" because, according to the distorted official line, the closure impacts the region's economy more than as it affects the Gambian economy.

To achieve this aim, he has solicited the assistance of local politicians including Abdoulaye Balde who Jammeh has promised to finance his 2017 presidential campaign.

Yaya Jammeh's recruitment drive, according to my sources, has also netted Robert Sagna, the veteran Senegalese politician and former Minister of Equipment and Agriculture in the Senghor and Diouf administrations.

Mr. Sagna is an old hand in the Casamance crisis and thus could be a valuable member of Jammeh's team of Casamance politicians that he's trying to assemble to help in the public campaign designed to apply pressure against the Macky Sall's government to open the border.

Contrary to Jammeh's public declarations, Gambia Ports Authority revenue at the Farafenni ferry service has declined by 72% in the first three months since the borders were closed.

Robert Sagna is a frequent guest of Yaya Jammeh as State House.  In fact, according to our sources, his visits are as frequent as twice a month, primarily to discuss the MFDC among other related issues.

These informal and non-official contacts and "consultations" between Jammeh and some of the politicians with agendas that do not necessarily compliment the policy objectives of the government of the day unfortunately have a way of muddying the waters that tend to delay the peace that is so desperately needed for meaningful economic growth and development to take place in the SeneGambia region, including, of course, Guinea-Bissau.