Mixed Reactions Over Gambia-Senegal Border Blockade Removal

BorderTalks2By Abdoulie John

The removal of the Gambia-Senegal border blockade has been generally hailed, although the move continues to draw reactions in the neighbouring countries that share almost everything including culture, ethnicity and religion.

“It is a very good sign. The two countries are one family. We share everything in common,” the Secretary General of Gambia National  Union Congress (GNTUC) Ebrima Garba Cham said during an interview with this reporter.

Last week, vehicles traffic to/from Senegal resumed at all the country’s crossing points ending a three-month long blockade. This followed intense negotiations held on May 15 in Dakar, aimed at finding ‘lasting solution’ to recurrent problems affecting the border between the two countries. Gambian Foreign Affairs Minister Neneh Macdouall-Gaye and his Senegalese Mankeur Ndiaye endorsed a communique reiterating both countries’ resolve to reach a framework agreement.

GNTUC leader said what is happening is in line with the regional bloc protocol regarding the free movement of goods and persons. “We are very much happy with the opening of the border. This will make life goes on and both economies will benefit from it,” he said.

He urged the two countries to make best use of the Banjul-based Senegalo-Gambian Secretariat which “should do more in responding effectively to crises.”

While welcoming the traffic resumption between both countries, National Assembly Speaker Abdoulie Bojang endorsed the idea of setting a Gambia-Senegal Parliamentary Group that would help overcome more challenges.

Senegalese music icon who has become one of Yahya Jammeh’s diehard supporters in Senegal called for a sense of responsibility in the way both States address border issues. “Some people should stop thinking that Gambia is another region of Senegal. It is a sovereign State,” Ouza Diallo told me.

The border closure has left many businesses in dire shape, provoking skyrocketing prices of basic commodities in the tiny West African nation. A situation that has prompted many people to wonder whether the “border crisis is really behind us…”

Amnesty Senegal Director Seydi Gassama said in line with ECOWAS protocol allowing free movement of persons, goods, and services, said it is Article 19 “Governments should easily facilitate the traffic between both countries. It is for the interest of Senegambian people,” he stated.


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