By Mustapha Jallow & Abdoulie G. Dibba
Foroyaa has been informed that armed Senegalese soldiers posted at the border village of Touba in the Southern part of Senegal (Casamance) have been visiting the village of Tranquil which they claim to be part of their country.
Upon receiving the information, this medium dispatched two reporters to the border village of Tranquil on Friday, 28 August, 2015 in order to ascertain the claims.
When the reporters arrived at the said place, they met some Gambian soldiers on the ground who were approached to enquire about their presence there. The soldiers, however, responded that it is their camp commander who could talk to us on why they are there. Attempts to contact the commander proved futile.
Visiting Touba village on the Senegalese side of the border to enquire from the soldiers found there on whether there is a misunderstanding about the border, these reporters were told by the camp commander, Captain Goudiaby (Kujabi), that they were not aware of any border crisis.
When these reporters returned to the said place yesterday, Sunday, 30 August, they were told by the villagers of Darsilami -Tranquil that the Senegalese army personnel came there on both the 21st and 22nd July 2015 and were heavily armed. According to the villagers, the Senegalese soldiers insisted that they are not encroaching on Gambian territory but are in their own country.
Talking to Foroyaa, the Alkalo of Darsilami, Madam Bassey Bojang, intimated that the conflict between Senegal and the Gambia regarding who owns Tranquil village could only be addressed by the two governments through dialogue.
She revealed that in 2011, a high level delegation comprising the then NIA Director General, Harry Sambou, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Saikou Sanyang, former regional governor, Lamin Sanneh, and other officials from the Senegalese government came there and inspected the area. Since that visit, she added, the problem is yet to be resolved.
“The Senegalese security will come to the area in the presence of members of the Gambian army which is not safe as these two forces are armed and any pushing and pulling between them could be disastrous,” cautioned the Darsilami Alkalo.
Madam Bojang concluded by calling on both the Gambia and Senegal governments to intervene by placing visible demarcation marks at the border as a final solution to this ongoing but unresolved dispute.
These reporters visited the Alkalo of Tranquil, Saysu Badjie, but were told that he had gone to the farm and will not be back until around 2 pm. Upon returning to the village, it was intimated that he was not still back.
The villagers however revealed that the Gambian Minister of the Interior, Ousman Sonko, had also visited the area on Friday, 28 August, and promised that he will convene a meeting with the Border Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, 31st August 2015, for the purpose of dealing with the issue once and for all.