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Actualités (593)

During the month of April 2024, Guinea was the scene of significant political and social developments, illustrating the challenges facing this country with a transition whose intentions and directions are as yet unclear. First of all, the process of drafting a new constitution, initially scheduled for September of the previous year, was delayed by various institutional obstacles and the surprise dissolution of the government in February. Despite the delays, the president of the transition, General Mamadi Doumbouya, announced that a referendum would be held this year, thus signaling an extension of the transition period beyond the date initially scheduled.

Meanwhile, growing insecurity in the country's second largest city, Kankan, has become a major concern. Armed robberies are on the increase, endangering the lives of citizens and undermining confidence in local authorities to ensure public safety. Recent attacks, some of which have resulted in deaths, testify to a persistent climate of insecurity in the region and the need for urgent measures to remedy it.

At the same time, press freedom is under increasing threat in Guinea, with the suspension of media outlets and news websites under the pretext of "national security". This widely denounced "repression" of freedom of expression is causing growing concern among media professionals, who are requesting a direct audience with President Mamadi Doumbouya to express their concerns and defend their right to independently inform the public.

On the political front, the opposition is organizing around the Union Sacrée, a group of civil society organizations and political parties, to put pressure on the current transition. The Union Sacrée is calling for elections to be held as soon as possible, and expressing concern about the prolongation of the transition and a possible attempt by the ruling junta to seize power. These developments testify to the persistent tensions between the various political players and the need to find a consensus to ensure a democratic and peaceful transition in Guinea.

April 2024 was marked by the inauguration and first steps of the youngest president in the country's history, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, and the political and economic developments that followed. He was sworn in as president, succeeding Macky Sall, at a solemn ceremony in the new town of Diamniadio: a flagship project of the Sall presidency. His election was helped, among other circumstances, by the promise of a break with the previous "system", and the appointment of Ousmane Sonko as Prime Minister was a sign of this desire for "systemic" change. The newly-elected president's first speech focused on youth, institutional reform, justice and "virtuous" governance, particularly in the context of the future exploitation of oil and gas resources.

The composition of the government led by Ousmane Sonko highlights a tightly-knit team, marked by the notable presence of members of the Pastef movement, from which the Prime Minister hails. The appointment of two generals to key posts (Interior and Defense) also drew mixed reactions, as did the minimalist presence of just 4 women. The death of Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, former Prime Minister and presidential candidate, also marked the month of April, while providing an opportunity for a "republican" display for the Prime Minister, who presided over the funeral ceremony, alongside illustrious individuals from the regime defeated by PASTEF.

On the economic front, the new president ordered an economic and financial review of the country, with a focus on economic recovery and reducing public spending. The resumption of the maritime link between Dakar and Ziguinchor was welcomed by the Casamance region, while a record cocaine seizure was made in the east of the country.

The preservation of the country's heritage also received particular attention, with the suspension of an auction of the library of Léopold Sédar Senghor, former president and poet of Senegal.

In addition, as he reserved his first visits for Touba and Tivaouane (the two main capitals of the influential brotherhoods), the President announced the creation of a Department of Religious Affairs and the Integration of Arab Education Graduates. This new entity, which will report to the Presidency, will bring together offices previously under the separate responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior and National Education.

On the international scene, Bassirou Diomaye Faye made his first foreign visit to Mauritania, emphasizing the importance of relations with neighboring countries, as well as the future joint exploitation of gas resources. His visit to Gambia was part of a drive to strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations, on which the definitive resolution of the crisis in Casamance largely depends. Finally, his diplomatic meeting in Guinea-Bissau at the end of the month provided an opportunity to discuss border issues, security and Chinese fisheries.

On the diplomatic front, the Senegalese President called for a "rethought" partnership with the European Union, highlighting the country's economic development priorities, while continuing official visits such as the one to Côte d'Ivoire, where President Faye will meet President Alassane Ouattara, one of the deans of ECOWAS.

Au cours du mois d'avril 2024, la Guinée a été le théâtre de développements politiques et sociaux significatifs, illustrant les défis auxquels est confronté ce pays avec une transition aux intentions et orientations pour l’heure illisibles. Tout d'abord, le processus d'élaboration d'une nouvelle Constitution, initialement prévu pour septembre de l'année précédente, a été retardé en raison de divers obstacles institutionnels et de la dissolution surprise du gouvernement en février. Malgré les retards, le président de la transition, le Général Mamadi Doumbouya, a annoncé la tenue d'un référendum cette année, signalant ainsi une prolongation de la période de transition au-delà de la date initialement prévue.

Pendant ce temps, l'insécurité croissante dans la deuxième ville du pays, Kankan, est devenue une préoccupation majeure. Les braquages à main armée se multiplient, mettant en danger la vie des citoyens et sapant la confiance dans les autorités locales pour assurer la sécurité publique. Les récentes attaques, dont certaines se sont soldées par des décès, témoignent d'un climat d'insécurité persistant dans la région et de la nécessité de mesures urgentes pour y remédier.

Parallèlement, la liberté de la presse est de plus en plus menacée en Guinée, avec la suspension de médias et de sites d'information sous prétexte de "sécurité nationale". Cette « répression » de la liberté d'expression largement dénoncée suscite des inquiétudes croissantes parmi les professionnels des médias, qui demandent une audience directe au président Mamadi Doumbouya pour exprimer leurs préoccupations et défendre leur droit à informer le public de manière indépendante.

Sur le plan politique, l'opposition s'organise autour de l'Union sacrée, regroupant plusieurs organisations de la société civile et partis politiques, pour faire pression sur la transition en cours. L'Union sacrée demande la tenue rapide d'élections et exprime des inquiétudes quant à la prolongation de la transition et à une éventuelle tentative de la junte au pouvoir de confisquer le pouvoir. Ces développements témoignent des tensions persistantes entre les différents acteurs politiques et de la nécessité de trouver un consensus pour assurer une transition démocratique et pacifique en Guinée.

Le mois d’avril 2024 aura été marqué par l'investiture et les premiers pas du plus jeune président de l’histoire du pays, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, ainsi que les développements politiques et économiques qui ont suivi. Il a prêté serment en tant que président, succédant à Macky Sall, lors d'une cérémonie solennelle dans la nouvelle ville de Diamniadio : un projet-phare de la présidence Sall. Son élection a été favorisée, entre autres circonstances, par la promesse de rupture avec le « système » précédent, et la nomination au poste de Premier ministre, d’Ousmane Sonko, a été un signe de cette volonté de changement « systémique ». Le premier discours du président nouvellement élu a mis l'accent sur la jeunesse, la réforme des institutions, la justice et une gouvernance « vertueuse », notamment dans le contexte de l'exploitation future des ressources pétrolières et gazières.

La composition du gouvernement dirigé par Ousmane Sonko met en lumière une équipe resserrée et marquée par la présence notable de membres du mouvement Pastef, dont est issu le Premier ministre. Les nominations de deux généraux à des postes régaliens (Intérieur et Défense) ont également été notées, suscitant des réactions diverses ainsi que la présence minimaliste de seulement 4 femmes. Le décès de Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, ancien Premier ministre et candidat à la présidentielle, a également marqué ce mois d’avril tout en donnant l’occasion d’un affichage « républicain »  au premier ministre ayant présidé la cérémonie de levée du corps ; cotoyant d’illustres individualités du régime défait par PASTEF.

Sur le plan économique, le nouveau président a ordonné un état des lieux économique et financier du pays, avec un accent sur la relance économique et la réduction des dépenses publiques. La reprise de la liaison maritime entre Dakar et Ziguinchor a été bien accueillie pour la région de la Casamance, tandis qu'une saisie record de cocaïne a été réalisée dans l'est du pays.

La préservation du patrimoine national a également fait l'objet d'une attention particulière, avec la suspension d'une vente aux enchères de la bibliothèque de Léopold Sédar Senghor, ancien président et poète du Sénégal.

Par ailleurs, le président, alors qu’il a réservé ses premières visites à Touba et Tivaouane (deux principales capitales des influentes confréries), a annoncé la création d'une Direction des affaires religieuses et de l’insertion des diplômés de l’enseignement arabe. Cette nouvelle entité, qui relèvera de la présidence, regroupera les bureaux précédemment sous la responsabilité séparée du ministère de l'Intérieur et de l’éducation nationale.

Sur la scène internationale, Bassirou Diomaye Faye a effectué sa première visite à l'étranger en Mauritanie, soulignant l'importance des relations avec les pays voisins mais aussi l’enjeu de la future exploitation commune des ressources gazières. Sa visite en Gambie, participe à la volonté de renforcer les liens bilatéraux entre les deux nations dont dépend beaucoup la résolution définitive de la crise en Casamance. Enfin, sa rencontre diplomatique en Guinée-Bissau en cette fin de mois a permis de discuter des questions de frontière, de sécurité et des pêcheries chinoises. 

Sur le plan diplomatique, le président sénégalais a plaidé pour un partenariat "repensé" avec l'Union européenne, mettant en avant les priorités de développement économique du pays tout en poursuivant les visites officielles comme celle effectuée en Côte d’Ivoire où le Président Faye rencontrera le Président Alassane Ouattara, un des doyens de la CEDEAO.

Tensions between nomadic Arab herders and indigenous sedentary farmers continue to provoke deadly clashes in southern Chad. At the end of March, at least 23 people were killed during seven days of violence in the Moyen-Chari region. These clashes are often triggered by disagreements and conflicts over the control of certain lands.

At the same time, the arrest of Ibrahim Hissein Bourma, a Chadian businessman, continues to arouse public criticism. His support committee has denounced the conditions of his detention, claiming that he was brutally arrested by armed soldiers. Relatives also denounce the arbitrary detention of some thirty people in his residence.

Controversy also erupted around the appearance of election posters of the transitional president before the official start of the electoral campaign. The opposition denounced this as a violation of the Electoral Code and accused the election management body of a partisan attitude in not taking action against these posters. Presidential candidates are also criticizing the use of state resources in the campaign, claiming that the transitional president is benefiting from an unfair advantage. In addition, tensions have arisen around electoral transparency, with a ban on photographing the minutes of the count, raising concerns about the validity of the electoral process.

The electoral campaign continued with ten candidates vying for the May 6 presidential election, including Pahimi Padacké and Lydie Beassemda, the only female candidate in the Chadian presidential election, who supports federalism as well as women's rights. A food industry engineer with ministerial experience, she heads the Party for Democracy and Integral Independence (PDI). The candidates' programs range from anti-corruption measures and energy sector reform to promises of restoring democracy and food self-sufficiency. While Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno is campaigning in opposition areas, Succès Masra, the current Prime Minister and presidential candidate, organized a massive rally in Moundou before embarking on a well-attended campaign even in the interior of the country and especially in the big cities. 

Against this tense backdrop, the United States plans to temporarily withdraw some of its forces from Chad, in response to a Chadian request to cease operations at an air base, and will do so, according to the authorities, as part of a review of security cooperation after the presidential elections.  

The elections went off smoothly and the partial results are being scrutinized from all sides, with heated debates already launched on social networks and claims of victory in the major cities by supporters of the opponent Succès Masra.

Les tensions entre éleveurs nomades arabes et cultivateurs autochtones sédentaires continuent de provoquer des affrontements meurtriers dans le sud du Tchad. Fin mars, au moins 23 personnes ont été tuées pendant sept jours de violences dans la région du Moyen-Chari. Ces heurts sont souvent déclenchés suite à des désaccords et des conflits liés au contrôle de certaines terres.

En parallèle, l'arrestation d'Ibrahim Hissein Bourma, un homme d'affaires tchadien, continue de susciter des critiques au sein de l’opinion publique. Son comité de soutien dénonce ses conditions de détention et affirme qu'il a été arrêté de manière brutale par des militaires armés. Des proches dénoncent également la détention arbitraire d'une trentaine de personnes dans sa résidence.

La polémique ont également éclaté autour de l'apparition d'affiches électorales du président de la transition avant le début officiel de la campagne électorale. L'opposition dénonçait, ainsi, une violation du Code électoral et accuse l'organe de gestion des élections d'avoir une attitude partisane en ne prenant pas de mesures contre ces affiches. Des candidats à la présidentielle critiquent également l'utilisation des moyens de l'État dans la campagne, affirmant que le président de transition bénéficie d'un avantage indu. En outre, des tensions ont surgi autour de la transparence électorale, avec une interdiction de photographier les procès-verbaux de dépouillement, suscitant des préoccupations quant à la validité du processus électoral.

La campagne électorale s’est poursuivie avec dix candidats en lice pour l'élection présidentielle du 6 mai, dont Pahimi Padacké ou encore Lydie Beassemda, seule candidate femme à l'élection présidentielle tchadienne, défendant le fédéralisme mais aussi les droits des femmes. Ingénieure en industrie agroalimentaire, elle a une expérience ministérielle et dirige le Parti pour la démocratie et l'indépendance intégrale (PDI). Les candidats présentent des programmes variés, allant de la lutte contre la corruption à la réforme du secteur de l'énergie, en passant par des promesses de restauration de la démocratie et de l'autosuffisance alimentaire. Alors que Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno mène sa campagne dans les terre de l’opposition, Succès Masra, actuel Premier ministre et candidat à la présidence, a organisé un rassemblement massif à Moundou avant de se lancer dans une campagne bien suivie même à l’intérieur du pays et surtout dans les grandes villes.

Dans ce contexte tendu, les États-Unis prévoient de retirer temporairement une partie de leurs forces du Tchad, en raison d'une demande tchadienne de cesser leurs activités sur une base aérienne, et cela se fera, d’après les autoritsé, dans le cadre d'un réexamen de la coopération sécuritaire après les élections présidentielles. 

Les élections se sont déroulées sans heurts et les résultats partiels sont scrutés de toutes parts avec des débats passionnés déjà lancés sur les réseaux sociaux et des revendications de victoire dans les grandes villes par les partisans de l’opposant Succès Masra.

In Togo, it is in a climate of high tension that citizens are called to vote to elect their deputies in a long-awaited legislative election that has been repeatedly postponed and finally rescheduled for Monday April 29. This new postponement follows President Faure Gnassingbé's request to re-examine the text aimed at amending the Constitution to move the country from a presidential to a so-called parliamentary regime, initially adopted by the assembly on March 25. With an overwhelming majority in parliament, it came as no surprise that the deputies confirmed the adoption of the text.

Henceforth, in Togo, power resides in the hands of a President of the Council of Ministers, appointed by the deputies, in charge of regalian functions. The president's term of office is six years, without specifying whether or not he or she can be reappointed. It is this point that worries the opposition, who fear that the current president, Faure Gnassingbé, could be appointed to this position, ensuring that he remains in power indefinitely. 

The day after the final adoption of the new constitution, the opposition lodged an appeal with the ECOWAS Court of Justice to demand the withdrawal of the country's new constitution, arguing that the constitutional reform "was made in the absence of prior public debate and political consensus", which, according to opponents and civil society, would undermine "democracy and good governance".

For some analysts, muzzled by bans on demonstrations, the opposition has concentrated its efforts on the run-up to the ballot scheduled for Monday 29, to raise awareness of how to vote, in order to avoid invalid ballots. According to the opposition, these legislative elections are an opportunity to "break the chains of slavery" that are shackling the Togolese people, and put an end to the Gnassingbé "dynasty".

According to the opposition, there is a flagrant lack of transparency in this election, with the authorities refusing to accredit an observer mission proposed by the Justice and Peace Commission. Even ECOWAS, which had announced an exploratory mission to interact with the main stakeholders on the latest developments in the country in a tweet, ended up modifying it the very next day, simply reclassifying the mission as "informational". It was thus in a rather confused climate that the Togolese were called to vote on Monday April 29, 2024, with the result ushering in a new political era in a country where the political scene has never been so turbulent in recent years.

Au Togo, c’est dans un climat de forte tension que les citoyens sont appelés à voter pour élire leurs députés lors d’une élection législative très attendue et maintes fois reportée pour finalement être reprogrammée le lundi 29 avril. Ce nouveau report fait suite à la demande du président Faure Gnassingbé de réexaminer le texte visant à modifier la Constitution pour faire passer le pays d’un régime présidentiel à un régime dit parlementaire initialement adopté par l’assemblée le 25 mars dernier. Avec une majorité écrasante au parlement c’est sans surprise que les députés ont confirmé l’adoption du texte.

Dorénavant, au Togo, le pouvoir réside entre les mains d’un président du Conseil des ministres, désigné par les députés, chargé des fonctions régaliennes. Son mandat est de six ans, sans qu’il soit précisé s’il sera renouvelable ou non. C’est ce point qui inquiète l’opposition qui craint que l’actuel président, Faure Gnassingbé, ne soit désigné à cette fonction, assurant son maintien au pouvoir pour une durée indéfinie. 

Au lendemain de l’adoption définitive de la nouvelle constitution, l’opposition a déposé un recours devant la Cours de justice de la CEDEAO pour réclamer le retrait de la nouvelle constitution du pays, estiment que la réforme constitutionnelle "a été faite en l'absence d'un débat public préalable et d'un consensus politique", ce qui, d’après les opposants et la société civile, porterait atteinte à "la démocratie et la bonne gouvernance".

Pour certains analystes, muselée par des interdictions de manifester l’opposition s’est concentrée sur les efforts en vue du scrutin fixé au lundi 29, pour sensibiliser sur la manière de voter, afin d’éviter les bulletins nuls. Selon cette même opposition ces législatives sont l’occasion de « rompre les chaînes de l’esclavage » qui entravent le peuple togolais et d’en finir avec la « dynastie » Gnassingbé.

Toujours, selon l’opposition, un manque flagrant de transparence plane sur cette élection avec le refus des autorités d’accréditer une mission d’observateur proposée par la commission justice et paix. Même la CEDEAO qui avait annoncé une mission exploratoirevisant à interagir avec les principales parties prenantes sur les derniers développements dans le pays dans un tweet finira par le modifier dès le lendemain requalifiant simplement la mission « d’informationnel ». C’est, ainsi, dans un climat assez confus que les togolais ont été appelés à voter le lundi 29 avril 2024 avec le résultat qui ouvre une nouvelle ère politique dans ce pays où la scène politique n’a jamais été aussi mouvementée ces dernières années.

In an interview with the national daily "Le Soleil", Bakary Sambe, Regional Director of the Timbuktu Institute- African Center for Peace Studies, maintains that the choice of Mauritania for President Bassirou Diomaye Faye's first official visit is "logical and diplomatically relevant." 

President Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye made his first international visit to Mauritania on Thursday April 18. How do you explain the choice of this neighboring country for his first official visit as Head of State ?

The choice of Mauritania for President Bassirou Diomaye Faye's first international outing speaks for itself, as it is both logical and diplomatically relevant. You know, when it comes to Senegal-Mauritania relations, some diplomats often speak of a single people in two sister states. These relations, which are first and foremost human, are rooted in a deep shared history that predates the international existence of the two countries. It has been historically established that the Trarza and Guidimakha regions, among others, have formed a socio-cultural and human continuum that has given rise to an infinite number of interminglings and interactions, explaining better than any other factor the enduring nature of relations between Senegal and Mauritania. Diplomatic relations have steadily strengthened, and have been further intensified by recent hydrocarbon discoveries, which have in fact established another community of destiny in addition to historical relations, in a complex geopolitical context and a reconfiguration of international relations and relationships. Mauritania's current presidency of the African Union, following on from that of the Comoros and Senegal, should be part of the same effort to better assert Africa's changing status, in an unprecedented context where the geopolitical shift of our continent towards any bloc could have a lasting impact on the international balance of power. The arrival at the head of Senegal of a President belonging to a new generation aware of the need for better pan-African positioning, coinciding with Mauritania's presidency of the African Union, should help reaffirm this need for synergy in the defense of the continent's economic and geostrategic interests. President Ghazouani, who was among the heads of state present at Bassirou Diomaye Faye's investiture, is well aware of the historic need for a pan-African shift that does not exclude openness to the world, but is deeply rooted in the defense of the continent's interests. 

What are the security, political and economic implications of this visit ?

Clearly, the strategic nature of such a visit cannot be overlooked in a Sahelian and West African context undergoing profound change, and facing the greatest security challenges with the terrorist threat no longer recognizing borders. There is also the reconfiguration of alliances at sub-regional level, and the new role that is taking shape for Senegal to reinforce while consolidating and, where necessary, evolving sub-regional and African integration. Security cooperation between the two countries, which has even become decentralized with the involvement of territorial and local administrations, will need to be strengthened, as a form of common security is now essential to both countries. The strategy of insistence and harassment on the part of terrorist groups in the absence of any real logistical anchorage on the territory, the sporadic minor attacks from the Wagadou Forest through the neighboring Kayes region, as well as infiltration attempts from the Melga area - commune of Djelegou, Cercle de Kayes - on the Guidimakha continuum linking Mauritania, Senegal and Mali and leading towards Sélibabi and Bakel are sufficient signals for the reinforcement or even intensification of security cooperation. In this respect, the two countries are called upon to exchange best practices with Mauritania's experience in counter-terrorism, as well as Senegal's experience in prevention, which has so far been effective, and in building resilience through a mixed approach integrating human security dimensions by opening up infrastructure and securing exposed regions, as well as the full involvement of local communities. In addition to their socio-cultural proximity, the two countries have everything to gain from a strengthened synergy based on their relevant levers and, above all, the pooling of their capacities.

What levers should the two Heads of State use to further consolidate their bilateral relations ?

The two Heads of State appear to have discussed at length the joint project for the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) natural gas field on their maritime border, developed by the UK's BP with the American Kosmos Energy, the Société mauritanienne des hydrocarbures (SMH) and Senegal's state-owned Petrosen. This structuring economic cooperation project alone perfectly illustrates the hyper-strategic nature of the relationship between the two countries. This visit was a fundamental issue and a relevant choice in the current context, but the cooperation deserves to be deepened and pursued with a greater constant forward-looking approach. The calming strategy adopted in the joint management of the Grande Tortue Ahmeyim block has been the least confrontational, in keeping with the nature of our relations and a guarantee of stability, enabling the two countries concerned to exploit the resource serenely and sustainably. Our country seems to be well prepared, with all the mechanisms put in place with this in mind. For this reason, Senegal could adopt a dual strategy of co-efficiency and enhanced cooperation with Mauritania in the context of capacity sharing, in particular by supporting the training of Mauritanian executives and managers of the gas resource vital to both our countries, using the opportunities offered by the Institut National du Pétrole et du Gaz (INPG). It would even be possible to consider facilitating access to the INPG for private Mauritanians in all their diversity, as well as for public sector executives from this friendly country. What's more, this scientific cooperation is underpinned by a long tradition of university exchanges, perpetuated by generations of senior Mauritanian executives who have been trained in Senegal, including some of today's political and economic leaders.

 

President Bassirou Diomaye Faye's visit to the Gambia, just after his visit to Mauritania, is part of a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, to ensure national security; and on the other, to reaffirm the desire of the new Senegalese authorities to strengthen the Banjul-Dakar axis. These are the quintessential words of Bakary Sambe, Regional Director of the Timbuktu Institute, in an interview with the Senegalese national daily newspaper Le Soleil.

What is at stake in the President's visit to Gambia?

The stakes of this visit to Gambia are clear. First of all, the new authorities have reaffirmed the intangibility of the nature and content of this crucial relationship, both for national security and for the co-development that has always characterized the Banjul-Dakar axis. So, while meeting Gambia's expectations of continuity, the atmosphere and the speeches that marked this visit seem to reflect this specificity and, above all, to recall the constants. In a discursive analysis, when the Senegalese president, in his address, insists on a personal "fraternity" that goes beyond institutional and diplomatic relations, it is not only to consciously "break" the codes and rigors of protocol as can be seen in his new style, it is above all for President Faye to reaffirm the natural, continuous and irreversible character of a relationship that will always defy time and, with it, passing regimes. But all in all, this visit, which gave diplomatic pledges and seems to be part of a dynamic to consolidate gains, was an opportunity to make decisive contacts, but also heralded fine prospects for cooperation.

What areas do the two heads of state need to work on in order to bring their cooperation to fruition?

As part of a ground-breaking field study in Gambia, soon to be published, the Timbuktu Institute, in synergy with Gambian researchers, was able to document the interest of both countries in strengthening their security cooperation, particularly in the context of prevention and the development of a real partnership policy to tackle cross-border challenges in the current sub-regional context. Although still in need of consolidation, the foundations of the relationship between The Gambia and Senegal have been firmly in place since independence. This was already the case from a political and diplomatic point of view, but the opportunities seem to be multiplying, with road infrastructures further facilitating economic exchanges through human mobility thanks to the bridge, and backed up by multiple and varied agreements. With the security environment vastly improved compared to ten years ago, with the stabilization of the conflict in Casamance, immense economic opportunities are opening up that will benefit both our territorial continuity and the growth of the Gambian economy, which is closely linked to its trade with Senegal. This is as true for the revival of the maritime economy as it is for agriculture and investment.

Moreover, on the occasion of the forthcoming summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to be held in the sister Republic of the Gambia, Senegalese-Gambian players are co-organizing an investment forum, which further reflects the embedded nature of the relationship at the very level of our respective populations. The political authorities should seize this opportunity offered by the private sector for economic diplomacy. In any case, the official invitation to this crucial Summit reiterated by President Adama Barrow, and already accepted by President Bassirou Diomaye Faye during this visit, shows, among other diplomatic acts, that there is a deep awareness of common challenges, and a jointly renewed determination to make the Banjul-Dakar axis a living model of regional cooperation and integration.

Does the fact that he is making his first visit to Mauritania and his second to Gambia, two African countries, mean that the new president is determined to break with Françafrique?

President Bassirou Diomaye Faye's words are unambiguous: "We are fortunate to have come to power with a pan-African project that strengthens solidarity and politics between African countries. This renewed and strengthened solidarity has enabled the Senegalese people to put their trust in us and entrust us with the reins of power". But Senegal's diplomatic tradition has always emphasized good neighborliness and efforts to achieve African integration and unity. Indeed, the title of the new Ministry of African Integration and Foreign Affairs could not be more eloquent in illustrating this reinforced choice by the new authorities. It's a roadmap in itself. So it's easy to see where our priorities lie. The choice of Mauritania is just as logical as that of Gambia, at the heart of our strategic depth and with which we have one of the longest borders, not to mention the level of cultural and linguistic cross-fertilization that adds to this country's vital importance for a definitive solution to the crisis in Casamance. Our respective governments are aware of the dimension that has always guided this cooperation. Moreover, in keeping with diplomatic tradition, the final communiqué agreed that the Heads of State would consult each other regularly on matters of mutual interest, and even agreed to hold the next session of the Senegalese-Gambian Presidential Council in Dakar, in the Republic of Senegal, "on dates to be set at a later date"

Dr Bakary Sambe