Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (57)

Bernard Allen

Question:

41 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the situation in Senegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4304/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The elections in April 2001, which resulted in the election of President Abdoulaye Wade, enhanced Senegal's reputation as an African democracy. The current government seems to have a sufficiently solid political base to enable it to move forward with political and economic reforms and to address Senegal's persistent social tensions. The next legislative elections are scheduled to take place in 2006 and a presidential election is due to be held in 2007.

For many years there has been separatist movement among the Dialo community in the southern Casamance region of Senegal. In 1982, theMouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance, MFDC, took up arms to fight for Casamance's independence. Despite various peace initiatives, violence has continued sporadically since.

The prospects for peace in Casamance, however, were given a new impetus by President Wade's meeting in early May 2003 with a central political leader of the rebel MFDC, at which both sides made specific commitments to move the peace process forward. A ceasefire agreement was agreed towards the end of December 2003 with the armed faction of Fogny in the Northwest area of the Casamance.

The agreement, including de-mining, is in the process of being implemented. We will continue to monitor the situation.