Casamance women march for peace
For two decades, Senegal's southern region of Casamance has been afflicted by war, as government forces have tried to contain a persistent armed insurgency. Pro-peace sentiments have been growing among ordinary Casamançais, and women have played a prominent role in organizing meetings, rallies and marches in Ziguinchor and other towns to demand that both the government and the rebel Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC) commence serious peace talks.
On 27 October, some 3,000 women marched through Ziguinchor. They stopped in front of the offices of the regional governor and those of the main MFDC leaders and extracted new pledges to work towards a comprehensive peace settlement. Many of the women were "guardians" of Casamance's sacred forests, where social disputes have traditionally been resolved according to local custom. Highly respected in rural communities and organized in an association called Kabonkétor ("reconciliation," in the local Joola language), these guardians have subsequently been travelling throughout Casamance to help mobilize support for the peace movement. "We don't want to keep on losing our children," explained Ms. Marguerite Coly.