Dialogue on ‘Inclusive Management Security in border areas open in Banjul

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Partners West Africa – Senegal, an Institution based in Dakar Senegal is currently visiting the Gambian Capital during September 4 & 5 2018 for a 2-day Dialogue. They are here to engage the stakeholders thanks to their ’Theory for Change’:

‘If we reinforce the Civil Society Organizations (CSO), and if we engage the Governments and other stakeholders regarding the important role that the CSOs play at all levels of the decision making process.SO we will reinforce the Democratic Governance for the sake of Peace and Security’. Source: partnerswestafrica.org

Within the scope of implementing a project financed by the USAID entitled ‘Engaging Civil Society for Peace in Casamance’, Partners West Africa organized a Dialogue on ‘Inclusive Management Security in Border Areas- Mobilizing the Stakeholders.

The Opening Ceremony gathered the Defense and Security Governmental Officials and Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Community, notably:

The Ambassador of Guinea Bissau, His Excellency Bailo CASSAMA, His Excellency Fodé SECK, Executive Secretary of the Senegalo - Gambie Secretariat, the Representative of the USAID, Moussa SOW, the Representatives of the Gambian Civil Society Organizations, the Chairman of the Board of Partners West Africa General Lamine CISSE, the President of the ‘Platform for the Women of Casamance for Peace’ and  the Ambassador of Senegal and  Dean of the Diplomatic Corp, His Excellency Professor Saliou NDIAYE.

This Dialogue has granted us the honor and outmost pleasure of having the opportunity to interview General Lamine CISSE, The Chairman of the Board of Partners West Africa – Senegal.

‘The General lamine CISSE,born in Sokone, is a distinguished soldier in the camps as well as being a well-respectedDiplomat and in the political arena. Having graduated in 1961 from the Military Academyof Saint-Cyr with the rank of Lieutenant, he has led an exemplary career in the Senegalese Army reaching its heights in 1996 with the Title of General Chief of Staff of the Army. After his military retirement, he was nominated as Minister of Interior. He organized the first Democratic Convergence that took place in Senegal in 2000. His sense of duty and sensibility of affairs has made him a well solicited man beyond our borders. The International Community has confided him many sensible dossiers that he has headed successfully.’Source :partnerswestafrica.org

The Full Interview

First and Foremost, we Would Like to Wish You a Great Welcome and a Pleasant Visit General Lamine CISSE. We Also Wish to Thank you for Your Constant Efforts in Establishing Peace, Democracy and Socio- Economic Development Sustainably in our Region.

‘Thank You.”

‘My General, Do You Know the Republic of the Gambia Outside of the Roles That You Have Had to Play as the General Chief of Staff of the Army of the Republic of Senegal or as the Minister of Interior of the Republic Senegal.’

‘It is true that I was the General Chief of Staff of the Army of Senegal and Minister of Interior. It is under that Title that I came to the Gambia quite often on various Missions. Of course, I knew the Gambia way beforehand. I came to the Gambia at a very young age due to the fact that my mother was born in the Gambia, in the Georgetown Region. I have many uncles, aunts, family members and friends in the Gambia. Henceforth I consider being a part of the country. I am always happy to come to the Gambia when there are occassions, activities, and meetings. I find great pleasure in answering the call every time I can come and meet my relatives that are settled here. I am always happy. There you have it, I know the Gambia quite well.’

The Project on ‘Inclusive Management Security in Border Areas’, is it an innovative project? If so, how?

‘The Project includes the populations themselves, civil society and all the actors that can contribute in installing durable Peace at the border regions.’

How will your Project on Inclusive Management Contribute to Maintaining Peace in Casamance?

‘Casamance is an important point in this Inclusive Dialogue between Senegal, Guinea Bissau and the Gambia. It is the chair with the three legs system. The ‘Platform of Women for Casamance’ is amongst the organizers of this workshop. Henceforth, we believe that all this synergy will contribute to the sustainability of Peace in Casamance.’

Could We Please Come Back to the Definition That You Gave Earlier Regarding the Borders? The border is it a Conflict Zone or is it a Zone of Exchange in the Sub-Region?

‘Mostly a Zone of Exchange. A zone where all the actors showcase their experience and expertise. It is in such terms that I referenced the border countries this morning which are a Concept belonging to the CEDEAO and the OAU, the ancestor of the African Union. This concept of boarder nations, what does it entail? It is at the level of the border between the two countries that there are infrastructures in one given country because there is a huge open space next to the border with in front of it, a nation where only villages exist because the city is 100 Kilometers away. Henceforth, allowing the inhabitants of that Underprivileged Nation to have access in the field to Sanitary , Educational Infrastructure etc… that are more accessible within 5 kilometers and vice versa on the other side as well. This experience was realized in Mali on two different occasions. One should pursue further with this Concept and create in consequence because it is full of potential for dialogue. It is an important, vital point of dialogue in the field. I believe that we should pursue the Concept and  try to formalize it a lot more.’

In The Past, Has There been Attempts to Find Solutions In Regards to the Senegal and Gambia Boarder Problems?

During the ‘70s, there were operations that consisted of identify the physical border demarcation lines in the Kantora Zone, situated between Senegal and the Gambia. Some Limitations were found. Limitations dating from the Colonial Era were crossing the Senegalese and Gambian villages. The ways however were particular being that some demarcations were located in the middle of the village or at times in the middle of the village Mosque etc...In return, we drew the lines of the Colonial Demarcations in order to determine the true borders before the positive migration took place since the Demarcations were nullified after the Colonial Era. Furthermore, the populations do not respect the border lines for numerous reasons: ethnic, cultural, family etc..We solved that problem with no serious damages.’

With this Project, How do You Intend on Involving Guinea Bissau?

‘The project Concerns Our 3 Nations: Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau. In fact our next workshop will take place in Bissau. Guinea Bissau just like the Gambia has had to play a key role in the Casamance Conflict and the management of the security at our borders.This makes her a stakeholder in the ongoing project.’

The Current Legislation Concerning Security in the Sub-Region, are They Satisfactory or do They Need Enhancement. What is your Opinion?

‘I cannot speak regarding the level of satisfaction of the Legislation. Nonetheless, I would like to recommend reinforcement in the way we tackle and implement decisions, from meetings as well as put in place optimal analytical/assessment mechanisms and tools. If and when this is conducted, let it be a permanent activity of our Institutions.

Does Partners West Africa Intend on Working on a Project That Could Stop the Illegal Circulation of Weapons at the Borders?

‘It is parallel to Partners West Africas’ Senegal activities. Our projects are usually aimed towards the Peace, the Democracy and the Socio-Economic Development of the concerned Nations. All of this necessitates Long Lasting Peace. Fighting against the illicit circulation of weapons is an important activity in order to reach the objectives of the different projects.

My General or Better Yet Mr. The Chairman of the Board, Terrorism is expanding Alarmingly in the Sub-Region. What Appropriate Measures to Eradicate This Scourge?

‘It is topic that can be debated in various angles as well as being a contemporary issue that concerns all the countries in the Sub-Region. The measures applied are making progress. However, Terrorism as well is evolving in many different ways. Appropriate mechanisms should be applied to counter the ruses. Effective approaches are being applied to fight Terrorism with eradication being the final objective. There are several realities. There is terrorism based on religion or other interests. One should always combat terrorism no matter what form it appears in, be it arms or the Judicial System.Furthermore, one should conduct an in depth study of this phenomenon in order to define the roots of this evil. One thing is for sure, one should not be on the defensive. One should also integrate this notion of development, of better living standards for the populations. This brings us back to this notion of human security rather than security in any other shape or form. 

What is the Civil Society Organizations’Role, Notably Partners West Africa in This Fight AgainstMulti-Dimensional Terrorism in all of its Various Aspects?

The Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should become Guardians of Democracy wiles participating in the inclusive management of the Security. It is known that in order to have optimal security, a viable Sector or System must be present. The Civil Society Organizations should serve as references for this fight. The CSOs can also have political viewpoints. However they should not part with the notions of Peace and Democracy in the process of things. 

How Does Partner West Africa Intend on Collaborating with the ECOWAS on Sensitive Issues Such as the One of The Drawing of the Border Demarcation Lines. A Sensitive Question At All Times in the Sub-Region. What Role do The FDS Play?

‘I will refer you back to my answer to question 4 that you asked me by adding that we include the CEDEAO and the ECOWAS  almost every time in our scope of activities. Living proof is that they have been invited to this workshop in Banjul. They shall also be present in the one in Bissau. Our Continental and Regional Institutions define the driving forces to follow regarding questions concerning Security, Development or Democracy. Henceforth, they are at the center of all mechanisms dealing with these questions. We maintain very good relations with the CEDEAO and the African Union.’

What Would You Say in Conclusion? Let us Say a Transversal Conclusion?

The debate concerning borders tends to be a permanently present one in the middle of international relations between Nations. Even the countries deemed ‘Super Powers’ have border issues amongst them. Some countries handle the matter with ease as Gentlemen whiles others apply brutal solutions. Henceforth, the constant inclusive dialogue imposes itself in this field. I thank you.’

End of Interview Transcript

Civil Society, up to you to pick up from here.

Author: Mussa Sallah