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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BANJUL695 2006-11-09 15:30:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Banjul
Cable title:  

THE GAMBIA: ONGOING TENSIONS WITH SENEGAL

Tags:   PREL PGOV PREF PINS SG GA 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANJUL 000695 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/09/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV PREF PINS SG GA
SUBJECT: THE GAMBIA: ONGOING TENSIONS WITH SENEGAL

REF: A. BANJUL 230 ET AL


B. BANJUL 574 (ALL NOTAL)

BANJUL 00000695 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOSEPH STAFFORD, REASON 1.4 (B AND D)

SUMMARY
--------



1. (C) Senegalese Ambassador Fall noted heightened
Sengalese/Gambian strains due to GOTG's support for dissident
Casamance rebel MFDC leader Salif Sadio, coupled with Gambian
actions against pro-conciliation MFDC elements such as Magne
Dieme. Fall said Senegalese armed forces chief would visit
here in mid-November to register Dakar's growing concern over
the GOTG's unhelpful posture on the Casamance issue; Fall
also expected President Wade to reiterate that concern during
his expected attendance at Gambian President Jammeh's
inauguration, scheduled for December 15. Fall gave
assurances of the GOTG's commitment to resolving the mounting
tensions with The Gambia through peaceful diplomacy, but
warned that Dakar might eventually be compelled to exert
economic pressure -- e.g., repetition of the 2005 border
closure with The Gambia -- if the GOTG's meddling in the
Casamance continued indefinitely. Fall acknowledged Jammeh's
ongoing suspicions of the GOS in connection with the failed
coup plot here in March, expressed satisfaction with the
GOTG's treatment of refugees from the Casamance, and
indicated that key bilateral projects were currently on hold
due to the increased tensions. Fall's remarks about mounting
bilateral strains are troubling, although he made clear
Dakar's intention to do its part to avoid a major rupture in
ties. END SUMMARY.

SENEGALESE AMBASSADOR'S CONCERN


--------------------------





2. (C) In November 8 conversation with Ambassador, Senegalese
Ambassador Mamadou Fall spoke of growing concern in Dakar
over ongoing GOTG support for renegade Casamance rebel
leader, Salif Sadio. According to Fall, the GOTG continued
to provide refuge in The Gambia to Sadio and his fighters and
was possibly also funneling arms, money, and other assistance
to him, notwithstanding denials by Gambian officials. Fall
said the GOTG also persisted in acting against MFDC elements
cooperating with the GOS on the peace efforts, by, for
example, keeping in detention MFDC military leader Magne
Dieme. Fall knocked down rumors of Dieme's release,
asserting that Dieme either remained in detention or had died
while in the Gambians' custody, given his long-standing
medical problems.

UPCOMING HIGH LEVEL SENEGALESE VISITS


--------------------------





3. (C) Fall stated that Senegalese Armed Forces Chief of
Staff would visit here in mid-November to discuss the
Casamance situation and flag Dakar's mounting irritation over
the GOTG's meddling. He added that President Wade planned to
attend President Jammeh's inaugural ceremony, scheduled for
December 15, and would hence serve as an occasion for Wade to
confront Jammeh face-to-face over the Casamance dossier. In
the interim, Fall went on, he himself hoped to meet with
Jammeh to press for a more cooperative stance. The GOS, Fall
continued, would "remain calm" and do its best to avoid
further escalation of tensions. However he warned, if the
Gambian meddling continued indefinitely, the GOS at some
point might be compelled to "react" through economic
pressure, e.g. closing the border with The Gambia and thereby
bringing its re-export trade to a halt. Ambassador
applauded Senegalese efforts to resolve the heightened
tensions with The Gambia through peaceful diplomacy and urged
that they continue; Fall gave assurances that Dakar would
maintain its efforts in this regard and would give "ample
time" for peaceful dialog to produce a solution before
considering stronger action.

GOTG'S ONGOING SUSPICIONS


--------------------------





4. (C) Fall acknowledged Jammeh still harbored suspicions of
GOS complicity in the coup plot foiled here in March and of
harboring the plot's ringleader, former Chief of Defense
Staff Col Ndure Cham. Fall said he could not rule out the
possibility that Cham remained somewhere in Senegal, but
disclaimed any knowledge of his whereabouts. He likewise
professed ignorance of any Senegalese involvement in the
failed plot, but did note allegations that his predecessor,
Ndiouga Ndiaye, had had contact with a leading suspect,
Tamsir Jasseh. (COMMENT: As previously reported -- e.g. ref
a -- we are not aware of a "smoking gun" that would
corroborate allegations of Senegalese complicity.

BANJUL 00000695 002.2 OF 002


Knowledgeable Gambian sources express conviction that Cham
is in Senegal, probably in Dakar. END COMMENT)

REFUGEES


--------------------------





5. (C) Fall indicated that he remained in close contact with
the GOTG regarding the recent influx of refugees into The
Gambia resulting from clashes in the Casamance involving
Sadio's fighters. He expressed satisfaction with Gambian
authorities' treatment of the refugees, saying he had picked
up no reports of abuses. Ambassador noted UNHCR statement
that, as of late October, the number of refugees had reached
6,200,up from 5,000 as of early September (ref b); Fall
responded that this latest figure struck him as too high, but
that he had no solid basis for challenging it.

NO PROGRESS ON MAJOR BILATERAL PROJECTS


--------------------------





6. (C) Ambassador asked about the status of two key bilateral
projects -- construction of a bridge across the Gambia river
that would facilitate travel between Northern Senegal and the
Casamance region and restoration of the Joint Permanent
Secretariat to manage bilateral issues. (NOTE: The Joint

SIPDIS
Permanent Secretariat existed prior to the two countries'
experiment with confederation in the 1980's. END NOTE). Fall
responded that, in the current climate of heightened
strains, both projects were on hold. He expressed hope that
the anticipated Wade/Jammeh meeting here in mid-December
would sufficiently clear the air between the two sides to
permit a resumption of discussions on these projects.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) In Ambassador's September 15 meeting with Fall (ref
b), he had spoken of an improved tenor in the overall
Senegalese/Gambian relationship, while expressing concern
over the GOTG's meddling in the Casamance. Fall's remarks in
our latest conversation are troubling, as they indicate that
the improved tenor has dissipated due to the GOTG's continued
unhelpful posture on the Casamance as well as Jammeh's
persistent suspicions of the GOS in connection with the
failed coup plot. Our view remains that Jammeh's
mischief-making in the Casamance may well be designed to
serve as retaliation for suspected GOS involvement in the
foiled plot and harboring of its ringleader. Fall made clear
that Dakar would do its part to avoid a major rupture in ties
and currently had no plans to rachet up the pressure on the
GOTG through a repetition of the August/October border
closure -- in retaliation for the GOTG's abrupt imposition of
sharp tariff increases for the Gambia river ferries heavily
used by Senegalese transporters -- that caused substantial
damage to the Gambian economy. END COMMENT.
STAFFORD