Dec 9, 2013, 9:52 AM
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s brief visit to Banjul was indeed a working visit.
During what could be described as a lightning visit, Wade came in to solicit President Yahya Jammeh’s assistance to solve the Casamance imbroglio, and left for Dakar soon after. It all took just a few hours.
This move by President Wade 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 Wade turns to Jammeh for such help shows appreciation of the two states’ mutual dependence in safeguarding peace and security in the sub region. It is also evidence of the realization that our two governments and states are faced with the same problems and concerns, which could be addressed through concrete actions such as strengthened bilateral relations.
We have always urged both heads of state to meet more regularly, so as to review the state of the cooperation, and provide mutual support whenever needed by either country.
Joint communiqués were signed during similar past visits, but the implementation of decisions taken is taking time.
In our view, 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 it’s 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 chiefs of defence staff 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”.