Assassination of Marabout Heightens Senegal-Gambia Tension

The Gambia Echo reports on the murder of a politically-connected marabout (Muslim spiritual leader) in Senegal:

On Thursday, the eve of the Muslim feast of Idal-adha (locally called Tobaski), Samsedin Hydara, a member of staff of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade was assassinated by a group of armed men who surrounded his compound at around 9 PM and shot him at close range. Samsedin Hydara of the prominent Marabout family…is a brother to Latif Hydara, another adviser in President Wade’s office.

The Senegalese government, through the Air Transport Minister, Farba Senghore, has all but named Banjul as responsible for the assassination of Samsedin Hydara… All indications are that [Gambia President] Yahya Jammeh should now watch his back and this time it is for real.

According to the US-based Gambian dissident Freedom Newspaper:

…Senegalese Interior Minister, Ngum represented [President Wade and]…spoke of the Senegalese Government determination to track the killers and showered praises to Sheriff Samsudeen Hydara for his role in bringing peace to Gassamance [sic].

…They are not ruling out Jammeh’s army as the killers were heard speaking in English after the shooting “the job is over” and were seen heading to the border with Gambia.

Casamance is the narrow area of Senegal south of the Gambian border, and there has been decades of conflict in the region between government troops and a rebel group called the Movement of Democratic Forces in Casamance (MDFC). According to the Gambian FOROYAA Newspaper, a faction of this group, rather than anyone working for Gambia, was responsible for the killing. Gambia has also accused the late marabout’s brother Latif Hydara of funding activities by MDFC members in Gambia, which would be a bit odd.

The Freedom Newspaper profiled Hydara last August (in a rather chaotic article), after Gambian soldiers tried to arrest him:

A few days ago state guard military men surrounded the Sirifo’s residence in Wassadou to effect his arrest. They were ordered to arrest the man and then keep him at Mile Two central prisons. The orders came directly from their commander in chief President Jammeh. As God’s men and women are usually protected by God Himself the Sirifo was able to escape disgrace and harm. During the process of attempted arrests and prayers the man managed to escape the evil men from Kanilai state guard’s garrison.

Next, news came in that the Sirifo had escaped to Dakar. This is the myth thats pounding on people’s heads now. The Sirifo escaped either through a conspiracy organised by some of his followers who were asked to go and arrest him or he used extra spiritual powers to be able to cross the thick layers of military personnel who surrounded his residence on that day. His followers in the Gambia National Army are plenty. They include Lang Tombong Tamba the current chief of staff…President Jammeh hates this man because he believes the guy is spiritual guide of the opposition members. He also does not want the Sirifo to give his powerful charms to others who could take over power from him Jammeh.

President Jammeh is known to be a bit of an eccentric, and earlier this year he earned global scorn after announcing that he personally had developed a herbal cure for AIDS. Back in October, the Freedom Newspaper ran a gloriously tabloid headline concerning a local musician, informing us that “Jammeh Wants Jaliba Kuyateh’s Tongue As Ritual”:

President Jammeh is after Jaliba’s tongue. His Marabout had asked him to produce the tongue of a leading Musician as a ritual known as “sarah or Sadaar.”  This according to the Marabout’s “lestiharr” or fortune telling would save the President from being toppled if provided. Jaliba is Gambia’s leading Musician today. Therefore, he is an open target.

One Response

  1. Richard, there was an article in the Jan/Feb edition of Mother Jones re Zion Oil. I cannot find your email address on your blog, nor on talk2action, so if you are interested in reading it, please email me at hardindr[AT]twcny[DOT]rr[DOT]com.

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