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US Casamance advisor concludes Gambia visit

Sep 18, 2013, 10:21 AM

U.S. Casamance Advisor Ms. Sue Ford Patrick on Friday 13th September 2013 completed a three-day trip to The Gambia.

According to a press release from the US Embassy in Banjul, during her trip, Ms. Patrick met with Gambian government officials and non-governmental organizations to discuss the ongoing Casamance conflict.

In October 2012, the release stated, the United States began an initiative to help bring peace to the Casamance, one of Africa’s longest running conflicts.

The release revealed that to support this initiative, the U.S. has appointed a Casamance Advisor located in Dakar, Senegal, and dedicated more than US$2million to support the peace process. Half of this funding, it added, approximately US$1million, is dedicated to assisting Casamance refugees in The Gambia and Guinea Bissau.

‘‘A permanent solution to this conflict requires commitment to the Casamance peace initiative from all regional neighbours. The Government of the Gambia’s role in securing the freedom of hostages in December 2012 demonstrated its ability to make a positive contribution,’’ it said.

During meetings with Senegalese President Macky Sall in June 2013, President Obama pledged U.S. support “to achieve a lasting peace in the Casamance region.”

The U.S. hopes for continued progress in the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Senegal and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance and welcomes the start of the African Development Bank -funded construction on The Gambia River Bridge, according to the release.

Ms. Patrick assumed the position of U.S. Casamance Advisor on Wednesday, September 11th.

She replaced Ambassador (retired) James R. Bullington. A retired senior Foreign Service Officer with more than 30 years of experience working in Africa, including in Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Kenya, Ms Patrick has served as Deputy Casamance Advisor since February 2013.