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Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC)

The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) is the armed separatist movement in the Casamance region of Senegal. The MFDC was founded as a body of resistance in 1947 and is centred around the Jola people. The ‘Atika’ armed wing of the MDFC, however, only began fighting for the independence of the Casamance region in 1982. Guinea Bissau’s former president, João Bernardo Vieira, supported the MFDC and was one of the group’s main supporters until he was overthrown in 1999.

The Senegalese government and the MFDC signed a cease-fire agreement on the 31st of May 1991. Nevertheless, separatist violence escalated in the Casamance province and this forced the government to send back the troops which had initially been withdrawn following the aforementioned ceasefire. The military response by the Senegalese national forces resulted in the death of 500 people and led to around 25,000 refugees: 10,000 internationally displaced people and 15,000 refugees in Guinea Bissau.

The MFDC was actively backed by the government of Guinea-Bissau under João Bernardo Vieira presidency. This backing stopped when the latter was overthrown in 1999. Evidently, Guinea-Bissau’s backing of the insurgency sparked regional tension with Senegal.

Interestingly, the MFDC is divided into two ‘resistance fronts’ which combat for different objectives; the Southern Front (‘Front Sud’) became a predominantly Diola organisation which fights for secession and full independence. The Northern Front (‘Front Nord’), in contrast, serves as an alliance of several peoples (Diola and non-Diola) who are willing to settle for less than independence and who are open to negotiation under the terms of the 1991 agreement. Negotiation remains difficult as the MFDC is spread in three countries (Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and the Gambia).

NOTE: This article will be updated soon.



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