BISSAU, GUINEA BISSAU – Moving closer to ending Africa’s oldest insurgency, Senegal’s government and the southern factions of Casamance’s separatist movement MFDC have agreed on the roadmap of a weapons handover and pledged to work on a return to peace – the biggest breakthrough in an eight-year process facilitated by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD).
General César Atoute Badiate of the MFDC (pictured above) and Admiral Papa Farba Sarr of Senegal signed the agreement after two days of discreet talks hosted by Guinea Bissau.
Umaro Sissoco Embaló, president of Guinea Bissau and acting president of the Economic Community of West African States, chaired the signing ceremony as guarantor of the deal.
The agreement comes after a declaration of intent for a mediated resolution of the conflict facilitated by HD in November 2021 between the Government of Senegal and the southern fronts of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC).
The new document, which outlines modalities for disarmament and reaffirms the commitment of the parties to finding a peaceful solution, is being kept confidential for the moment. Work on the weapons handover is due to start this October.
“This declaration is a major step forward after 40 years of conflict and seven rounds of talks in Senegal, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau over the last three years. Much hard work still must be done, especially as one faction has yet to agree to disarmament, but it is very encouraging to see the steady building of trust and respect between the parties,” said Alexandre Liebeskind, HD’s director of Francophone Africa.
“The commitment of Presidents Embaló and Macky Sall to ensuring the safety of combatants laying down their weapons is instrumental to pursuing talks on a comprehensive peace agreement. HD remains committed to supporting the parties in their efforts to achieve peace and create a better future.”
Since 2014, HD has worked with all parties to the conflict and influential actors to create an inclusive and legitimate negotiation platform between the government and the MFDC. The conflict in Casamance, a region separated by The Gambia from the rest of Senegal, has been fuelled by a sense of political and economic marginalisation.
HD wishes to thank the European Union for its continuous support of the process and the parties for their trust.
HD is the leading international private diplomacy organisation working to prevent and resolve armed conflicts through dialogue and mediation. With teams and projects across Africa, the Middle East, Eurasia, Asia and Latin America, HD is active in peacemaking in more than 75% of armed conflicts around the world.
Photo: General César Atoute Badiate of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance signs an agreement with Senegal’s government on a roadmap for disarmament after talks supported by HD and the government of Guinea Bissau. © Guinea Bissau Presidential Office