Ending The Armed Conflict In Senegal (Casamance)

Ending The Armed Conflict In Senegal (Casamance)

Year(s): 2012 – present.

Location: Casamance, Senegal.

UN Regional Group: Africa.

Type of Conflict: Vertical (state-based) Intrastate Conflict with Foreign Involvement.

Type of Initiative: Mediation of a peace agreement.

Main Implementing Organisation(s): The Community of Sant’Egidio and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

Impact: Limited.

Summary: Although a final settlement to the conflict is yet to be negotiated, ongoing negotiations hosted by organisations such as the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and the Community of Sant’Egidio have helped to strengthen a 2014 ceasefire and end the fighting in the Casamance region of Senegal.

Description of Case 

The Casamance region of Senegal was subjected to over three decades of armed conflict between the Senegalese military and the secessionist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) after the latter launched an insurgency in 1982.[1] In 1991, some factions within the MFDC signed a ceasefire with the Government of Senegal, limiting the extent of the conflict. Many groups within the MFDC initially rejected the ceasefire, and although increasing numbers came to terms with the government in the ensuing years, the peace process was dealt a serious blow by the escalation of violence in 1995.[2] The fighting continued until a new peace process began in 2000. While this process, like its predecessors, failed to resolve the conflict, the intensity of the fighting was once again reduced. Indeed, a truce signed in 2004 ended the fighting altogether for a few years, but Casamance soon fell back into conflict.[3] In 2012, a new president was elected on a ticket of ending the conflict and bringing peace to Senegal, leading to another revival of the peace process.[4]

Beginning in October 2012, the most powerful factions within the MFDC met with officials from the Government of Senegal at a meeting hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome.[5] In 2014, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue was invited by the Senegalese government to re-launch the peace process after talks had stalled the previous year.[6] These renewed efforts proved fruitful, and in May 2014 the leader of the largest faction of the MFDC declared a unilateral ceasefire with government forces.[7] While a comprehensive resolution to the conflict encompassing every wing of the MFDC is yet to be found, the ceasefire heralded years of peace for Casamance. Indeed, since the ceasefire came into place only one outbreak of violence has occurred, when 13 people were killed in an attack in 2018. The prospects for peace were much strengthened in the first months of 2020, when representatives of both parties reiterated their intention to ‘resume regular negotiations’ and ‘give new impetus to the peace process’ at another meeting hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio.[8]

[1] Aïssatou Fall. “Understanding The Casamance Conflict: A Background.” Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre Monograph, No. 7. (2010) p.1

[2] Ibid. p.20-5

[3] BBC. “Senegal’s Casamance MFDC rebels declare a ceasefire.” BBC News. (2014) Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27221999 (Accessed 15/11/2020)

[4] Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia. Senegal. Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/conflict/375 (Accessed 22/10/2020)

[5] Community of Sant’Egidio. “Hostages freed in Casamance thanks to Community of Sant’Egidio.” Community of Sant’Egidio Press Release. (2012) Available at: https://archive.santegidio.org/pageID/3/langID/en/itemID/6137/Hostages-freed-in-Casamance-thanks-to-Community-of-Sant-Egidio.html (Accessed 15/11/2020)

[6] Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Mediation and support for the peace process in Casamance – Senegal. (CHD, 2020) Available at: https://www.hdcentre.org/activities/mediation-of-the-casamance-conflict-in-senegal/ (Accessed 22/10/2020)

[7] BBC. “Senegal’s Casamance MFDC rebels declare a ceasefire.” BBC News. (2014) Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27221999 (Accessed 22/10/2020)

[8] Community of Sant’Egidio. “Senegal: Peace Negotiations Resumed in Casamance.” News. (2020) Available at: https://www.santegidio.org/pageID/30284/langID/en/itemID/34828/Senegal-peace-negotiations-resumed-in-Casamance.html (Accessed 22/10/2020)