Submitted by Bill Weinberg on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 23:11.
Hundreds of thousands of mourners have gathered the holy city of Touba to pay last respects to Senegal's late spiritual leader, Serigne Saliou Mbacke, who died at the age of 92 on Dec. 28. Saliou was the last surviving son of
Samsudeen Hydara, commonly known as "Dino," was shot dead on Dec. 21—the eve of the Muslim feast of Idal-adha (locally called Tobaski)—by gunmen initially suspected to be separatist guerillas, at his residence in Manudaa, in the Senegalese region of Cassamance. Hydara was a close advisor of President Wade, and was official envoy for brokering a peace deal with separatists in Cassamance—the narrow southern strip of Senegalese territory sandwiched between Gambia to the north and Guinea-Bissau to the south. (Foroyaa, Gambia, Dec. 27 via
The Senegalese government, through the Air Transport Minister, Farba Senghore, has all but named Banjul [Gambia's capital] as responsible for the assassination of Samsedin Hydara. Minister Senghore was quoted as saying that the Government of Senegal has absolved the MFDC of all responsibility in the assassination of Mr. Hydara which is being interpreted as meaning that Senegal should look for the culprits across the border in neighboring Gambia. All indications are that Yahya Jammeh should now watch his back and this time it is for real.
Samsedin Hydara was the brother of Latif Hydara, also a presidential adviser and prominent marabout. The Gambia Echo account notes that nine accused Cassamance separatists standing trial in Banjul for "clandestine activities" on Gambian soil have named Latif as their paymaster.
These claims were echoed by the Gambian newspaper Foroyaa, Nov. 28 (online via
Gambia's exile-based opposition
The UN news agency
IRIN reports that leaders of the main separatist organization, the Movement of Democratic Forces in Casamance (MDFC), have denounced the assassination, and that another brother of the victim, Dino Kébanding Aïdara (Hydara), denied that the rebels were behind the slaying.
At the height of the conflict ten years ago, Amnesty International charged that the MFDC carried out targeted killings and torture of civilians. There was, of course, a strong ethnic cast to the conflict, with the Diola people largely supporting the MFDC, and the Mandingo, Balante, Manjak, and Mancagne often targeted as government collaborators. The Dakar regime, in turn, held scores of suspected MFDC collaborators without trial, and the demand for their release was a main obstacle to a peace deal.
And what is the role of Gambia in the Casamance conflict? Even if accused MFDC guerillas are now on trial in Banjul, leaders of the organization have also been granted haven there in the past. It was at a 1999 conference in Banjul that MFDC faction leaders met to hash out a unified position for the peace talks. (
President Jammeh is known to be a bit of an eccentric, and earlier this year he earned global scorn after
Bartholomew provides the following quote from the lurid Freedom Newspaper account:
President Jammeh is after Jaliba’s tongue. His Marabout had asked him to produce the tongue of a leading Musician as a ritual known as "sarah or Sadaar." This according to the Marabout's "lestiharr" or fortune telling would save the President from being toppled if provided. Jaliba is Gambia’s leading Musician today. Therefore, he is an open target.
The article also implies (improbably) that Jammeh may have had a hand in the recent murder in Johannesburg of South African reggae star
The marabouts evidently have the power to be king-makers in the region's politics. Senegal's President Wade regularly visits Touba after elections to thank the Mouride marabouts for their support. Far removed from the palace intrigues, the mendicant Baye Fall—dreadlocked and poverty-vowed followers of Cheikh Bamba's disciple, Ibra Fall—are a part of the same order. (
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