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Senegal. (Areas of Conflict).

Casamance is a southern part of Senegal largely separated from the rest of the country. There has been a general feeling among the people of the region that the national government has neglected them.

An armed rebellion that began in Casamance has been led by the Diola people. They form the largest group in an ethnically-mixed region and have traditionally rejected central authority from the Senegalese government. The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance was formed in 1947, and immediately declared Casamance independent. Calls for the territory's independence occasionally sparked violent confrontation with police. Tension between the government and Casamance separatists intensified greatly in 1982 during a demonstration organized by the MFDC in which protesters and police clashed. The guns were brought out and fighting continued for 19 years. Serious human rights abuses by both sides have been reported. Fighting in 1993 claimed over 250 lives and prompted the two sides to call a ceasefire which lasted two years. Tensions rose again in 1998 as civilians increasingly became targets of violence initiated by both sides.

Both parties have frequently engaged in peace talks over the years, usually initiated by the MFDC, and committed themselves to numerous ceasefires. These have usually ended in failure and led to renewed fighting. The most recent peace came in March 2001. An agreement was signed between the government and the MFDC. However, a hard line faction of the MFDC split from the main group, elected its own leader and refused to abide by the peace agreement. The death toll reached more than 50 by September, mostly civilians ambushed on Senegal's high ways by rebels. In total more than 1,200 people have died since 1982.


Directory of Senegal Websites - http://www.refer. org/sngal_ct/accueil.htm

Life in Africa Foundation - http://www.lifeinafrica. com/
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Publication:Canada and the World Backgrounder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6SENE
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Previous Article:Rwanda. (Areas of Conflict).
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