Monday, January 03, 2005

Peace deal signed in Casamance!

After 22 years of conflict, the Senegalese government and rebels in the southern province of Casamance have signed a peace deal. President Abdoulaye Wade, most of the government and a bevy of foreign ambassadors and officials descended on Ziguinchor on Thursday, journeying the 450 km [about 300 miles] south from Dakar to the capital of this region wedged between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, reports the UN's IRIN service.

The peace accord, not ceasefire, was signed last week by Senegal's interior minister and Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, leader of the main separtist group Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). Several groups in the faction-ridden [separatist] movement refused to ink the peace accord, but it was unclear how much influence they wielded or how significant the snubs would be in the long run.

Casamance is a fertile region for agriculture and is lush with green, unlike much of the rest of Senegal which is Sahelian dry. The peace deal may bring a revival in the tourist industry, which is one of Casamance's main sources of income.

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