#Article (Archive)

Rising hope for stronger relationship

Apr 16, 2012, 2:00 PM

Senegal’s new President Macky Sall made his first official visit to The Gambia yesterday as President of the Republic of Senegal, raising hopes for a stronger relationship between Banjul and Dakar.

This, to us, is indeed a timely visit, taking into account remarks by Senegal’s foreign affairs minister that the trips were intended to regain Senegal’s place in the diplomatic arena, and to reunite and renew their relationship with their immediate neighbour, The Gambia.

This move by President Sall has come at a time when there are strong indications that the existing bilateral relations are improving, to the satisfaction of the peoples of both countries.

That President Sall paid his first official visit as President to The Gambia, shows how important he sees The Gambia to Senegal and how important Senegal is to The Gambia.

It is also evidence of the realization that our two governments and states are faced with the same problems and concerns, especially the crisis in Casamance, which could be addressed through concrete actions such as strengthened bilateral relations.

In our view, both Jammeh and Sall should try and nurture the idea of meeting more regularly, so as to review the state of the cooperation, and provide mutual support whenever needed by either country.

We have seen in the past when joint communiqués were signed during similar visits by former President Wade, but the implementation of decisions has been taking a long time and, in some cases, not even implemented at all.

We hope and pray that the governments of Presidents Macky Sall and Yahya Jammeh will make a difference by honouring all agreements signed between the two countries, especially with regards the free movement of people and goods.

The re-export trade should be made effective by constructing good roads between Barra and Dakar, maintenance of the ferries, and introducing a train service between Senegal and The Gambia.

Our two leaders should also think about re-launching vessels or ferries between Dakar and Banjul, and to work together towards finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Casamance.

The Gambia and Senegal are uniquely positioned to teach the rest of the continent the significance and benefits of integration.

Thus, we reiterate our insistence that the moribund Senegalo-Gambia permanent secretariat be revived.

We understand that the Consultative Commission between the two countries has been meeting, but concrete action is yet to be taken in the matter of re-establishing the Senegalo-Gambia permanent secretariat.

We believe its coming back to life will help strengthen bilateral cooperation and understanding to the mutual benefit of the peoples of the two countries.

We, therefore, reiterate our call for stronger and better Senegal-Gambia relations based on the activities and programmes that will be developed by technocrats of both countries at the permanent secretariat, when it becomes operational.

In terms of security cooperation, necessitated by perceived and known threats to the stability of the Senegambia region, we again call for the armies of both countries to cooperate more closely, so as to ensure the mutual security and peace of the two states.

We commend the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the security forces of the two countries, as it will help to reassure both sides of their commitment to ensure peaceful co-existence and good neighbourliness.

It is important that both countries make this commitment, because there is no way trade can flourish between the two countries in an atmosphere of suspicion and instability.

We want to remind all Senegambians that our common ancestry and history have bonded us together in such a way that we are condemned to live together forever.

It is, therefore, to the advantage of both states to emphasise our affinity rather than dwell on differences that are inimical to mutual progress and prosperity.

“We make our friends, we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour”.

G.K. Chesterton