African News

Youssou Ndour pushes for peace in Casamance

Senegalese Mbalax superstar, Youssou Ndour, over the week end joined growing calls for an end to the on going fighting between Senegalese forces and the MFDC separatist movement, which has brought life in that area to a virtual standstill.
Mr Ndour was speaking in the regional capital of Southern Senegal, Ziguinchor, where he performed to multitude of audiences as part of a country wide tour.
”There is concern over the peace in Casamance,’’ Youssou said, shortly before performing at an evening concert at the Stade Aline Sitoe Diatta in Ziguinchor.
The Senegal musician, media mogul, business man and humanitarian especially directed his call to opinion leaders in the form of artists, intellectuals, sportsmen and NGOs, whom he urged to help bring the central government and the rebels together for ‘‘sincere’’ negotiations to end the decades of fighting.
This is not the first time Youssou is reflecting the need for the much needed peace in the restive south of the country, as he is said to have dedicated a song to this call in 1996. He acknowledged the fact that the nation’s religious leaders were already championing the cal for peace in the region, and he added, ‘everyone should contribute.”
The rebellion started since 1982, experiencing a resurgence of violence in the southern town of Ziguinchor, in the areas of Baraf, Kassan, Diab, with clashes between the military and various factions of the armed wing of MFDC. Two soldiers were killed in the latest violence, about a week or so ago.
At a separate radio program, earlier, Mr Ndour challenged the government to do more by cutting it long silence on the issue of Casamance.
”We have not heard too much from government,’’ he said. ‘‘We want to hear their message.”
In an apparent response, the mayor of the city of Ziguinchor, Abdoulaye Balde, who is also the country’s Minister of the Armed Forces, said, ”I’m very much interested in this call for peace.”
Balde’s called contrast sharply with an earlier, widely condemned remark made a senior military office in Dakar, who suggested the use of force to deal with the issue ‘‘once and for all.’’

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