The enlistment of the Casamance Separatist rebel leader’s Son in the Gambia national army is a vindication of activists claims that former Gambia President Yahya Jammeh’s lack of trust in Gambian military officers. Until Lance Corporal Omar Sadio, the son of Salif Sadio, had his cover blown, claims of the enlistment of Casamance rebels in the Gambian army had been received with absolute silence. Even lousy mouths in the Jammeh regime had no courage to talk about the issue.
Until September 6th – eight months after Yahya Jammeh departed for Equatorial Guinea – Omar Sadio, a non-Gambian who enlisted into the Gambian Armed Forces in 2005, remained in Gambian uniform and carried fire arms. Why would this enemy within stay in Gambian uniform must be thoroughly explained. Was it an advice or strategy of his father who had freely lived in the Gambia?
Did Omar’s case come out of the blues? Heckie no! His father had been a close ally of Mr. Jammeh. Both men live and dream about Jola dominance in the region. In line with their thinking, this can be done by bringing back the Old Kabou Empire through annexing the Gambia, Southern Senegal and Guinea Bissau. One prominent Casamance rebel movement leader was heard telling a friend, “we Jolas want to control 3 Bs [Banjul, Bignona and Bissau]. At some point, we had the 2 Bs [Banjul and Bissau] where Yahya Jammeh and Malan Becau Sagnia ruled. But the biggest struggle had been how to get Bignona. We want to do what Mandinkas did in the past.”
A Catholic priest and teacher Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor and others started the Movement for Democractic Forces in Casamance (MFDC) in 1982 with the ultimate goal of making the region independent. The late Senghor was jailed several times, the last being in the 90s. He was convinced to sign a peace dead with Senegalese government on December 30th 2004. Angered by a deal that guaranteed “voluntary integration of MFDC fighters into Senegal’s paramilitary forces, economic recovery programmes for Casamance, de-mining and aid to returning refugees,” some hard-line factions of the rebel movement soon defected from the deal. These hard-liners, who wanted nothing but total independence of Casamance, formed their own breakaway wings. Salif Sadio leads one of the MFDC factions.
In his recent interview, the 62-year-old Sadio said, “we’ll some day liberate Casamance. With only a few fighters, animals and arms and ammunition, we’ll free Casamance. I’ve never been married and will only do so after liberating Casamance.” Salif Sadio remains defiant despite the downfall of Jammeh. The Gambia’s army command must see the enlistment of his son as a wake-up call. Act fast by overhauling the army and weed out all the worms before they cause colossal damage.