Casamance conflict

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Casamance Conflict
Date 1982 – May 1, 2014
Location Senegal
Status Unilateral Ceasefire[2]
Senegal Senegal
limited involvement:
The Gambia Gambia[1]
Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau
Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance
Commanders and leaders
President Abdou Diouf (1982–2000)
President Abdoulaye Wade (2000–2012)
President Macky Sall (2012–present)
Augustin Diamacoune Senghor (until 2007)
N/A estimated at a few hundred to a few thousand
Casualties and losses
5,000 killed in total since 1982[3]

The Casamance Conflict is a low-level civil war that has been waged between the Government of Senegal and the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) since 1982. On May 1, 2014 the leader of the MDFC sued for peace and declared a unilateral cease-fire.

The MFDC has called for the independence of the Casamance region, whose population is religiously and ethnically distinct from the rest of Senegal.[4] The bloodiest years of the conflict were during the 1992–2001 period and resulted in over a thousand battle related deaths.[5]

On December 30, 2004 an agreement was reached between the MFDC and the government which promised to provide the voluntary integration of MFDC fighters into the country's paramilitary forces, economic recovery programmes for Casamance, de-mining and aid to returning refugees.[6] Nevertheless some hard-line factions of the MFDC soon defected from elements of the MFDC who had signed the agreement and no negotiations took place following the breakdown of talks in Foundiougne on 2 February 2005.[7]

Fighting again emerged in 2010 and 2011 but waned following the April 2012 election of Macky Sall. Peace negotiations under the auspices of Saint Egidio community took place in Rome and on 14 December 2012, President Sall announced that Casamance would be a test-case for advanced decentralization policy.[8]


Map of the Casamance region.
Coat of arms of Senegal.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Casamance region is the southern region of Senegal which, although connected in the East to Senegal, is separated from the rest of Senegal by the Gambia. Casamance is richer in mineral and ecological resources than the rest of Senegal and produces most of the country's food, rice and cotton.[9] The principal inhabitants of the region are members of the Jola ethnic group and many are Christians or animists, unlike the majority of Senegalese who are Muslims.[10] The sentiment has existed amongst Diola that they do not benefit sufficiently from the region's richness and that Dakar, the capital, reaps most of the profit from the region's products.[11]



The Casamance region is mostly inhabited by the Jola people who have a long tradition of independence movements. The MFDC had organised peaceful independence demonstrations. In 1982 the organisation's leaders were arrested, sparking a vicious circle of increased resistance and Senegalese Army clampdowns.


In 1990, the MFDC began reprisals by attacking military buildings in the region, with alleged covert support from the Bissau-Guinean Army. The Senegalese Army in turn attacked MFDC bases in Basse Casamance and Guinea-Bissau, but both sides were also accused of attacking non-combatants.

Several ceasefires were agreed during the 1990s, but none lasted, and the conflict hit European headlines when four French tourists disappeared, both sides blaming each other. Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor had come to lead the MFDC and pursued a policy of talks and reconciliation. However, the Senegalese government refused to consider independence for the region, leading some MFDC members to split and restart the fighting.

Another ceasefire was signed in 1997, but about 500 people were reported dead in battles up until March 2001, when Senghor and Abdoulaye Wade, the President of Senegal, agreed to a peace deal. This allowed for the release of prisoners, the return of refugees and clearance of land mines but did not bring autonomy. Some in the MFDC regarded this as a betrayal, and the movement split with two factions battling each other.


Since the split, low-level fighting has continued in the region. Another round of negotiations took place in 2005.[12] Its results were, however, proved partial and armed clashes between MFDC factions and the army continued in 2006, prompting thousands of civilians to flee across the border to The Gambia.[13] Father Senghor died in January 2007.

In October 2010, an illegal shipment of arms from Iran was seized in Lagos, Nigeria. The Senegalese government suspected that the arms were destined for the Casamance, and recalled its ambassador to Tehran over the matter.[14] Heavy fighting occurred in December 2010 when about 100 MDFC fighters attempted to take Bignona south of the Gambian border supported by heavy weapons, such as mortars and machine guns. They were repulsed with several casualties by Senegalese soldiers who suffered seven dead in the engagement.[15]

Recent developments[edit]

On December 21, 2011, Senegal media reported that 12 soldiers were killed in Senegal's Casamance region following a separatist rebel attack on an army base near the town of Bignona.[16] Three more soldiers were killed in an attack the Senegalese government blamed on separatists in the region on February 14, 2012.[17] The attacks continued into March as four soldiers were killed and eight others injured in two separate incidents on the 11th and 23rd.[18]

On April 5, 2012, newly sworn-in President Macky Sall said that ensuring peace in the south would be a top priority for his administration in his first public speech since taking office. He also expressed confidence that the leaders of Gambia and Guinea-Bissau can be involved in the efforts to find a solution to the long-running conflict.[19]

On May 1, 2014 the leader of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, Salif Sadio, sued for peace and declared a unilateral cease-fire after secret talks held at the Vatican between his forces and the Government of Senegal led by Macky Sall.[20]


  1. ^ "Déterminée à en finir avec la rébellion casamançaise : L’Armée sort la grosse artillerie". 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Senegal: Movement for the Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) rebels declare unilateral truce » Wars in the World". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Casamance: no peace after thirty years of war -". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Database - Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP)". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Senegal to sign Casamance accord", BBC News, December 30, 2004
  13. ^ "Senegal: Attacks in Casamance despite peace move", IRIN, December 5, 2006
  14. ^ "BBC News - Senegal recalls Tehran ambassador over arms shipment". BBC News. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Senegalese army sweeps Casamance after fight with separatists". RFI. 28 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  16. ^ "12 Soldiers killed as violence in Senegal continues". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Senegalese troops 'killed in attack'". Al Jazeera. February 14, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Soldier Killed, Four Wounded In Senegal Rebel Attack". Jollof News. March 23, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Senegal: Macky Sall says peace in Casamance is top priority". Afrique Jet. April 5, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Senegal: Movement for the Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) rebels declare unilateral truce » Wars in the World". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]