Senegal rebels in talks offer to governmentBy TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW | Monday, June 11 2012 at 16:39
The dreaded southern Senegalese rebel leader holding eight hostages has urged the government to take up his offer of peace talks to end the 30 year-old conflict.
The Enquête newspaper on Monday quoted separatist leader Salif Sadio as saying that he was ready to release the eight “prisoners of war”.
He laid three conditions including if President Macky Sall “officially and honestly decides to engage in negotiations” to eventually end the armed conflict.
Sadio said he would prefer the talks be held at any location outside the continent and insisted the Catholic church be included in the talks.
The eight hostages were taken late last year and include six government soldiers and one gendarme captured in the southern Casamance region.
The men were captured in an ambush by the main faction of the Mouvement des Force Democratique du Casamance or Mfdc which has over the year split into several splinter groups.
Sadio had earlier extend a similar olive branch to the erstwhile government of President Abdoulaye Wade on January 20 but got no feedback due to the presidential election campaigns.
A few weeks after his election, President Sall paid his first official visit outside Senegal to neighbouring Gambia where he received the support of President Yahya Jammeh to end the conflict.
When he came to power in 2000, ex-president Wade promised to end the conflict in 100 days but this proved impossible as fighting escalated and hostages taken for the first time in the conflict.
Hundreds of people have been killed since the secessionist conflict started in 1981 and villages razed to the ground and properties worth millions of dollars damaged.
Neighbouring Gambia and Guinea Bissau have traded accusations with the Senegalese government accusing it of providing a haven and aiding the rebels.
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