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Chronology for Diolas in Casamance in Senegal

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Diolas in Casamance in Senegal, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f38d7c.html [accessed 20 December 2014]
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Date(s) Item
1401 - 1500 The Casamançe region was invaded by Portuguese slave traders.
1601 - 1800 French, English, and Portuguese powers competed for mercantilist hegemony (to secure their own regional sources of slaves) in the Casamançe.
1851 - 1900 The French expelled the Portuguese further south into Guinea-Bissau and colonized the Casamançe.
1943 In response to the Casamançe people's (or Casamançais) resistance to the French colonizers, the French sent the Diola queen Alinsitowe Diatte into exile.
1947 The Movement des Forces Democratiques de la Casamançe (Movement of Democratic Forces of the Casamançe-MFDC) proclaimed independence for the first time in the Casamançe. The MFDC consisted of mostly Diola-speakers.
Aug 20, 1960 Senegal gained independence from France.
Dec 26, 1982 Several hundred separatists, organized by MFDC, demonstrated outside the governor's office in the regional capital of Ziguinchor in favor of secession from Senegal. The demonstration led to numerous clashes injuring a dozen people and to the arrest of 63. Augustin Djamakoun Senghor, the leader of the separatist movement in Casamançe, was among those jailed.
Dec 18, 1983 Supporters of the MFDC held a demonstration in Ziguinchor calling for independence from Senegal. The protests led to the deaths of at least 25 people (19 of whom were demonstrators).
Apr 1987 Senegalese authorities released 92 out of a total of 152 detainees after they attended a meeting of the banned separatist MFDC in October 1986.
Apr 1990 Two customs officers were killed by gunmen. Two weeks later, terrorists hurled grenades into a crowd at a Muslim religious ceremony.
May 1990 Amnesty International reported allegations of human rights violations (torture and ill-treatment of Casamançais) by the government of Senegal.
May 1991 President Diouf rejected international investigation of the charges made by Amnesty International in May 1990.
Jun 1991 Diouf signed a peace agreement with the MFDC and offered amnesty for some 400 Casamançais who were arrested on charges of rebellion. In general, however, the peace agreement was not effective and violent unrest in the Casamançe increased after the agreement was signed.
Jan 2, 1992 A peace commission to assist in bringing an end to separatist violence was established. The commission, mediated by the government of Guinea-Bissau, was made up of representatives from the Senegalese government and the MFDC.
Aug 1992 The MFDC split into two factions: Front Sud (southern front led by Abbe Diamacoune) which became primarily a Diola organization demanding independence; and Front Nord (northern front, led by Sidy Badji) which was organized as an alliance of several groups (both Diolas and non-Diolas) calling for further negotiation based on the 1991 agreement instead of full independence. The main reason for the split was attributed to the Nord people's fear of losing their cultural identity by being dominated by Diolas. Although Front Nord supporters shared the basic objective (greater political, cultural, and economic rights of the Casamançe) with the Front Sud, they feared that Diola predominance of the Front Sud could cause the loss of multi-cultural identity among the Casamançe people.
Sep 1, 1992 During a clash between separatist MFDC guerrillas and government troops at Kaguitt village (in Casamançe, near the Guinea-Bissau border), 50 rebels and 2 soldiers died. Sixty-nine people were said to have been wounded. This incident marked the first outbreak of violence since the government signed a peace accord with the MFDC in May 1991.
Oct 26, 1992 A group of 20 gunmen attacked a fishing village near the Cap Skirring tourist area (600 km south of Dakar) killing 31 people, mainly civilians including children. The perpetrators claimed to be MFDC guerrillas.
Dec 12, 1992 Senegalese infantry forces bombarded the Sao Domingos region of Guinea-Bissau, alleging that the attack was on bases of the Casamançe rebels. The attack killed two Guinean civilians and injured three others. The attack followed an ambush by MFDC members which resulted in the deaths of two Senegalese soldiers. During 1992, the Casamançe province raged with violent confrontations, generating more than 17,000 refugees, who fled to neighboring Guinea-Bissau (12,000 as of December 1992) and Gambia (5,000 since January 1992). In December 1992, the government organized a "committee of reflection" to respond to the Casamançe situation and proposed more autonomy for the region and more decentralization by establishing a regional assembly. But the committee refused the Front Sud's demand for independence. Even the moderate Front Nord people perceived no genuine efforts by the committee to ease the Casamançe situation. In fact, President Diouf did not have to compromise with the Casamançais (neither Front Nord nor Front Sud had sizable military resources) since he could rely on the army.
Jan 1993 The Front Sud stepped up fighting, opposing the upcoming elections being held in the Casamançe. Diouf sent 1,500 soldiers who had returned from "peace-keeping" duties in Liberia to Casamançe. Three weeks before the national elections, intense fighting broke out between Front Sud guerrillas and the army, leaving more than 12 dead. The state-run daily Le Soleil did not report any incidents. In the meantime, Abdoulaye Wade, the opposition leader, warned that if the government did not take the Casamançe situation seriously, the violence would result in a civil war. The government criticized his statement as incitement for war.
Feb 20 - 21, 1993 During the first round of presidential elections, at least 30 people were killed in various activities attributed to the MFDC. Incumbent President Diouf was reelected. Sidy Badji, the Front Nord leader, who was under protection of the government army, pledged to negotiate as soon as MFDC solved the internal problems. Badji said the Casamançe should be economically "reborn" by restoring peace and thus re-attracting tourists. But Front Sud leader Senghor accused Diouf's Socialist Party of fraud (French and U.S. observers considered polling to be generally fair). The violence in the region was aimed at nullifying the election, particularly in the Casamançe.
Mar 12 - 14, 1993 Clashes between the army and MFDC members near the village of Bedene (south of Ziguinchor) resulted in the deaths of up to 80 rebels.
Mar 17, 1993 President Diouf announced the strengthening of security forces in the Casamançe province and the dispatch of additional troops to reinforce the 2000 already there.
Apr 8, 1993 Father Diamacounce Senghor, the secretary-general of the MFDC, called for a cease-fire between the government and the MFDC, to take effect on April 10 and to start negotiations with France as arbiter.
Apr 18 - 19, 1993 At least 100 separatists were killed by Senegalese troops in one of the bloodiest clashes since the beginning of the uprising in 1982. The clash, which was in direct violation of the cease-fire, lasted six hours and also resulted in the deaths of 3 Senegalese troops.
Apr 27, 1993 The Senegalese government called for a cease-fire with the Casamançe rebels.
Jun 26, 1993 In a clash near Badem (20 kilometers from Ziguinchor), the government army killed 20 suspected members of MFDC.
Jul 1993 As part of the July 8th cease-fire agreement between MFDC and the government, 104 Casamançe prisoners were released in Ziguinchor.
Jul 8, 1993 Senegal's Armed Forces Minister Madieng Khary Dieng and the leader of MFDC, Diamacoune Senghor, signed a cease-fire agreement under which neighboring Guinea-Bissau would act as guarantor. The agreement stipulated a cease-fire throughout Casamançe, the release of Casamançe prisoners, the non-reinforcement of government troops in Casamançe, and the free return of refugees.
Jul 11, 1993 One soldier was killed and several were wounded during a clash between government forces and suspected separatists.
Jul 22, 1993 One hundred and fifty-two people held in Dakar central prison for separatist activity were freed.
Sep 10, 1993 One person was killed and another was wounded when three people, who were believed to be separatists, reportedly refused to comply with a routine identity check.
Sep 15, 1993 Three members of the Senegalese police were killed when armed men hurled grenades at a police station.
Nov 16, 1993 Senegalese police killed one MFDC member and wounded several others after having misjudged the rebels' intentions of giving up their weapons. The MFDC members had already agreed to give up their weapons.
Dec 24, 1993 A French mission, headed by Rene Ala (French Ambassador to Senegal), testified that Casamançe was never autonomous during France's rule over the region. Furthermore, when Senegal was working towards independence, no faction ever proposed a delineation of the territory nor was any request for autonomy expressed. The investigation was ordered as part of the cease-fire agreement signed on July 8th between the Senegalese government and the MDFC. The State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993 stated that there were abuses by both government forces and MFDC rebels in 1993 that led to some deaths. Overall, over 200 people were killed in the Casamançe region in 1993 in violence related to the separatist movement.
Jul 22, 1994 Lt. Yahya Jammeh seized power in The Gambia. Unlike in 1981, Senegal did not assist the overthrown president Sir Dawda Jawara because of his opposition to creating a Senegambia confederation. By November, the new Gambian government was suspected of having links with Casamançe rebels.
Aug 1994 The opposition candidate in Guinea Bissau promised to end support for Casamançe rebels if he was elected to power. The ruling party, however, returned to power. Guinea Bissau houses about 21,000 Casamançe refugees and the Gambia about 3000.
Jan 16 - 24, 1995 Clashes between Casamançe rebels and government forces are reported. One soldier and several rebels were killed during the clash on the 24th.
Feb 16, 1995 Two fishermen were reportedly killed by men claiming to be MFDC members.
Feb 22, 1995 Senegal fired rockets on the Guinea Bissau town of Ignore, one week after a similar strike on another border town, Punta Rosa. The Senegalese claimed they were trying to ferret out any rebels hiding across the border.
Mar 3, 1995 Rebels killed three in Casamançe, while several rebels themselves were also killed.
Apr 6, 1995 Four French tourists disappeared in the Casamançe near the National Park region of Basse. Rebels were thought to be responsible for their disappearance.
Apr 26, 1995 Fr. Augustin Diamakoune Senghor, the Casamançe rebel leader, has been under house arrest because of the April 6 incident since 21 April. Fr. Senghor began a hunger strike on the 26th. His top four aides were arrested and held at the gendarmarie of Ziguinchor. More than 1000 government troops were in Casamançe looking for the missing tourists and trying to crush the rebellion. They were met with strong resistance from MFDC rebels. Several clashes were reported during the past three months during which about 20 people were killed. Renewed clashes began in April when the government accused rebels of breaking the cease-fire by ambushing an army patrol. The MFDC denied the ambush.
Apr 30, 1995 Government troops captured a rebel stronghold in the search for the missing French tourists. The main rebel forces escaped, but heavy weapons were seized.
Jun 16, 1995 Fr. Senghor formally called for a halt to the two-year old cease-fire and negotiations with the government. The MFDC also said it would work to block a deal between Senegal and Guinea Bissau on sharing off-shore oil, fishing and other resources.
Jul 28, 1995 Five soldiers were killed in an ambush about 20 km SE of Ziguinchor by Casamançe rebels. Twenty-three others were killed since 25 July 1995 at the villages of Babonda Forest. Several other attacks by MFDC rebels were reported during the month.
Aug 1995 Minister of the Armed Forces Cheik Hamidou Kane denied that the government was in a state of war in the Casamançe. However, throughout the month, clashes between government troops and rebels were reported which resulted in several deaths on both sides.
Sep 1995 A peace commission was set up to negotiate the conflict between the government and Casamançe rebels. Some clashes were reported during the month, but fighting was not as heavy as it had been in recent months.
Oct 1 - Nov 30, 1995 Several clashes were reported in the Casamançe. Beginning October 27, about 150 rebels were killed by government troops. Smaller numbers of government troops were also killed.
Dec 1995 Fr. Senghor called for an end to the fighting in the Casamançe on Senegalese TV. His appeals for peace have been largely adhered to by rebel troops.
Jan 1996 Peace talks between MFDC separatists and the representatives of the National Peace Comission began on January 8th. A first meeting between Abbe Diamacoune Senghor, the Secretary-General of the MFDC and several members of this commission was held the day before. At this meeting Senghor handed over a proposal which demanded immunity for the delegates who are assigned to the negotiations. The proposal also includes an MFDC demand that negotiations take place in a neutral country. (Source: Radio France Internationale, Paris, in French 1230 gmt 9 Jan 96 )
Jan 1997 The Government released from house arrest MFDC leader Abbe Diamacoune Senghor and four military/political advisors who had been extradited from Guinea-Bissau in 1994. The individuals had been charged but not convicted of compromising the security of the state.(Source: U.S. Department of State, February 1997)
Mar 18, 1997 Separatist MFDC forces with bases in Guinea-Bissau clashed with Senegalese soldiers. One soldier was wounded, but no one was killed. The Senegalese government blamed the attack on some stray elements who allegedly escaped the control of MFDC leader Senghor, and stated its intentions to continue negotiations under way in France. (Source: Africa No 1 radio, Libreville, in French 1215 gmt 18 Mar 97 )
Aug 1997 25 Senegalese soldiers were killed at Mandina Mancagne in the Casamançe region. The soldiers who had been reported missing, were killed by elements of the MFDC during a search operation the Senegalese Army organized to bring security to the periphery of Ziguinchor, capital of the province. Alongside the 25 soldiers killed, 30 rebels of the MFDC were also killed.(Source: Africa News, 8/23/97)
Sep 2, 1997 President Diouf's emissary recently visited Ziguinchor where he held peace talks with the leaders of the MFDC. Guinea-Bissau, the guarantor of the negotiations, has reaffirmed its preparedness to offer its services as the framework for the negotiations on the peace process in Casamançe. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 9/2/97)
Sep 7, 1997 MFDC fighters attacked a youth centre in the village of Djibanar, in the department of Sedhiou, and killed some 10 children.(Source: Africa News, 2/18/98)
Sep 30, 1997 Between five and seven people were killed when MFDC rebels attacked a fishing village in Diogue, near Cap Skirring in Southern Senegal.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 9/30/97)
Oct 14, 1997 There is renewed violence in the Casamançe region of Senegal. The Senegalese army announced a huge offensive in the south of the region. The offensive, which has been confirmed by authoritative sources in the region, has left about 100 dead within the ranks of the Movement of the MFDC, bringing to 300 the number of people killed in Casamançe since the resumption of hostilities in the region in July after a long lull. Among the ranks of the recently deceased are two MFDC generals - Mater Atshi, also known as Gargarin and Vieux Faih - both of whom reportedly died of injuries following the attack on the rebel base of Djirak. Today, with the strength of the Senegalese army's striking force, the guerrillas who survived the bombings are reportedly seeking refuge in Guinea-Bissau in the city of San Domingos. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/14/97)
Oct 31, 1997 In the south of Senegal, the epicenter of the violence is moving from Ziguinchor to Kolda. The Casamançe separatists are carrying out a strategic retreat in this direction. After the intensification of the bombardment of MFDC bases in the departments of Sedhiou and Oussouye by the Senegalese army, many rebels who could not hide in the region found refuge on Guinea-Bissau territory. Others slipped into Sedhiou District in the region of Kolda. According to generally well informed sources, the political leadership of the separatist movement says it is ready to return to the negotiating table in order to spare human lives in the two opposing camp.: (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/31/97).
Nov 18, 1997 Some 850 people suspected of involvement in both petty crimes and crimes associated with the MFDC were arrested in a security sweep in Dakar over the weekend. Upon Abdou Diouf's order, hundreds of police and gendarmes took part in the operation that concentrated on the most popular suburbs of Dakar.(Source: Africa News, 11/18/97)
Nov 27, 1997 In Casamançe, southern Senegal, the prevailing lull has given way to more violence. The separatists have, over the past few days, fired shells not far from Ziguinchor, the regional capital. Although the armed forces have destroyed many of their bases over the past few weeks, the MFDC rebels have again resumed violent activities. Meanwhile, MFDC Secretary-General Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor and his aides of the political branch of the Casamançe separatist movement have just called again on the Catholic clergymen in Ziguinchor to help them resume the suspended negotiations. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 11/27/97)
Dec 1997 MFDC Secretary-General Father Augustin Diamancoune Senghor called for negotiations between the MFDC and the Senegalese government in his latest letter to the Ziguinchor clerical committee. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts)
Dec 16, 1997 In Casamançe, a few days before the negotiations scheduled for Christmas, violence flared once again. An attack was carried out by armed elements believed to be MFDC members. The raid resulted in the death of five people, with three others seriously wounded. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12/16/97)
Dec 31, 1997 The Senegalese army reported destroyed two major bases of the MFDC in Senegal's southern region close to the border with Guinea-Bissau. (Source: Africa News, 12/31/97)
Jan 22, 1998 Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, the secretary-general of the MFDC called on his followers to cease hostilities. He has asserted that he is ready to give up the demand for Casamançe's independence, but on condition that the government take measures towards greater economic and social development of this southern Senegalese region. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/22/98)
Jan 29, 1998 Authorities in Guinea-Bissau have uncovered on their territory the trafficking of arms meant for Casamançe, a situation which has led to the arrest of several Bissau officers implicated in the trafficking. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1/29/98)
May 18, 1998 Campaigning for the 24th May Senegalese parliamentary election continued. Meanwhile, there have been renewed clashes in Casamançe between separatists and the Senegalese forces. One person has already died in such clashes. Following last weekend's clashes in Gourab between MFDC Forces and Senegalese troops, the southern route linking Ziguinchor and Kolda became the scene of heavy fighting. At last count, 20 rebels were killed. These renewed clashes come at a time when the 18 political parties in the running for the 24th May parliamentary elections are on the campaign trail. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/18/98)
May 26, 1998 The people of Senegal voted today for the renewal of their parliament. According to first reports, three parties are emerging from the field. The ruling PS has fallen behind Djibo Ka's Democratic Renewal party (URD), while Mr Wade's PDS is maintaining its position. The next Senegalese parliament will comprise 140 deputies instead of the 120 in the current one. Voting proceeded calmly, except in the Casamançe region where MFDC rebels tried to disturb voting by firing shells at a village near Ziguinchor, the regional capital. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 5/27/98)
Jun 16, 1998 Fighting took place between the Senegalese army and a group of MFDC rebels who had been putting up violent resistance at Kantene for almost 48 hours. A large number of rebels were killed and many others severely wounded. Simultaneous shelling of rebel bases detected along the Guinea-Bissau border, mainly those of Ngore and Baraka-Mandioka, has been ongoing since the 15th.(BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/20/98)
Jun 19, 1998 The Senegalese Liberal Party has been created by a former number two man of Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party PDS.(BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/19/99)
Jun 20, 1998 For the first time since the start of the Guinea-Bissau conflict, the Movement of Casamançe Democratic Forces MFDC, the rebel group in southern Senegal, has reacted to the Senegalese intervention in Guinea-Bissau. A statement released by the MFDC, condemned the ongoing violence there supported by the Senegalese army. The statement also contained denials that MFDC forces are fighting alongside General Mane's rebel soldiers. It should be pointed out that the Senegalese intervention is partly intended to cut off the MFDC from its rear bases in Guinea-Bissau.(Source: BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 6/20/98)
Jul 29, 1998 Three persons were killed in the southern Senegalese town of Kolda, when gunmen suspected to belong to the MFDC, opened fire on a commuter bus. The gunmen who numbered up to 50, were later tracked down by an army patrol. An unspecified number of them were killed in a shoot-out with the security forces.(Source: Africa News, 7/29/98)
Aug 25, 1998 The armed forces began a vast mop-up operation to dismantle MFDC bases along the Guinea-Bissau border. This followed acts of violence perpetrated in Samine and Tanaff last week, in which three gendarmes were killed.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/31/99)
Aug 26, 1998 On 26th August, the army carried out heavy bombardment of MFDC positions during which 17 soldiers were killed in Samodie, near the Guinea-Bissau border. (Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/31/99)
Aug 30, 1998 There were violent clashes between the army and the Movement of Casamançe Democratic Forces rebels in the Kolda region yesterday near the border with Guinea-Bissau. Seven soldiers were wounded, four of whom died during evacuation from blood loss. Forty-three rebels also died in the clashes, which took place at Sekounaya.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 8/31/98)
Jan 5, 1999 The MFDC has reacted to President Abdou Diouf's New Year message calling for dialogue to resolve the Casamançe crisis. The MFDC gives as condition for any discussion the unconditional release of Secretary-General Father Abbe Augustin Diamacoune Senghor and all other leaders of the movement.(Source: BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 1/5/99)
Jan 27, 1999 The ICRC, working with the regional committee of the Senegalese Red Cross Society in Ziguinchor, carried out a food distribution for displaced people in the Ziguinchor and Bignona departments of Casamançe. The beneficiaries had fled their villages because of the insecurity that prevailed following clashes between Senegalese government forces and the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamançe (MFDC). According to a count made by the National Society in December of 1998, 6,211 people, are receiving food aid. Despite the improved climate of the past few weeks, when for the first time since 1993 President Abdou Diouf met with Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, the historic leader of the MFDC, many of those displaced are still afraid to return to their villages.(Source: Africa News, 2/11/99)
Feb 15, 1999 A few weeks after the head of state's visit to Casamançe and his meeting with Reverend Father Diamacoune Senghor, spiritual leader of the MFDC, 123 members of the organization have just been released from prison. The number of prisoners released by region is: 47 for Ziguinchor, 33 for Kolda and 43 for Dakar. By this measure of releasing detainees, the peace process in the southern Senegalese region is being consolidated.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2/15/99)
Apr 28, 1999 Various factions of the MFDC are currently meeting in Banjul, Gambia, to discuss peace in Senegal. This meeting in Gambia could pave the way for comprehensive negotiations on all the issues raised by the Casamançe separatist movement, whose key members have joined the charismatic leader Diamacoune Senghor. Some 8,000 Casamançe refugees who have fled the conflict between the Senegalese army and the MFDC are currently living in the Gambia.(Summary: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/28/99)
May 17, 1999 While the most recent round of fighting between government troops and Casamançe rebels was officially blamed on the MFDC, separatist rebels have condemned the government for launching renewed attacks in the Casamançe region which resulted in the deaths of 15 rebels, 2 government troops and 3 Civilians. In January, Senegalese President Abdou Diouf met with Father Diamacoune, leader of the dominant MFDC faction, and both men pledged to work for an end to the conflict through dialogue. But fighting on April 29-30 after a lull of several months, claimed 20 lives.(Source: Africa News, 5/17/99)
Jun 2, 1999 In the past two days, serious incidents took place in Ziguinchor, Casamançe capital city, where mortar shots, said to have been fired by rebels of the MFDC, killed two people and wounded 15. The shots targeted the Tilene market area in central Ziguinchor. MFDC spokesmen claim that the army, by conducting mopping up operations in the south of Ziguinchor where they spotted rebel elements is responsible for the violent flare up.(Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 6/2/99)
Jun 10, 1999 Various wings of the MFDC are preparing to meet in Gambia, where they plan to harmonize their position before entering into negotiations with the government. If the more radical factions of the MFDC, who now admit that their objective is to create a Gabou federation, including Casamançe, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau can not be cajoled into toning down their demands then chances for any lasting agreement with the government look bleak.(Source: Le Soleil, 6/10/99)

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