Fatoma Coly, the now ex-commander of the Diakaye faction (center left), shakes hands with Farba Sarr (center right) on May 23, 2023 in Mongone village, Casamance, Senegal. -
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Wahany Johnson Sambou
A new step on the road to peace for Casamance. A historic handshake on May 13 gathered the head of the Diakaye fighters, the governor of the Ziguinchor region and the representative of Senegal's government.
In Senegal's southern region of Casamance, a rebellion has killed over 5000 people, forcing thousands to displace. Fighters from the Diakaye faction have now agreed to lay down arms.
"I am motivated by the will to save my brothers and sisters and the women of the masquis," Fatoma Coly, the commander of the Diakaye faction says.
"Casamance has no enemies. When I was offered the position of commander, I was clear with Diakaye’s leadership. I let them know that I am not a bloodthirsty man. I agree to lay down arms, if it is to bring peace and not to spread terror."
The breakthrough comes after several years of negotiations.
It also follows last march’s signature of the Act II of the peace agreement signed between the state of Senegal and the Initiative for the reunification of the political and military wing of the Movement of the Democratic forces of Casamance. The state’s negotiator was hopeful for lasting peace.
"We must work together to consolidate peace, including through grassroots development actions, as we aim to find a definitive solution to this long-standing crisis," Amiral Farba Sarr explained. "We hope to have the support and assistance of all the populations, since they are at the heart of all the concerns."
"These now ex-fighters of Diakaye faction of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance took a strong action. They were one of the hard-line factions of the rebellion that has shaken Senegal’s South for mover than 40 years. As they agree to lay down arms, they bring back the hope of a definitive return to peace in a very rich region," journalist Wahany Johnson Sambou.