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Senegal in peace talks with Casamance

2012-10-17 20:01

Rome - The Senegalese government has begun peace negotiations in Rome with representatives of the Casamance separatist rebel movement, the talks' Catholic mediators said on Wednesday.

A Senegalese government delegation and a delegation from the Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MDFC) "met in the presence of the mediators of the Sant'Egidio community to make possible a return to peace in Casamance", a statement said.

The Rome-based Catholic community disclosed that the meeting took place on 13 and 14 October.

"At the end of the meeting, the two delegations expressed their thanks to the Community of Sant'Egidio for its efforts and decided to meet again in Rome to continue their talks," the statement said.

The MFDC has been fighting for independence since 1982 in a conflict that has defeated several peace initiatives.

Over the past 30 years the conflict has cost thousands of military and civilian lives and displaced thousands of people and refugees though no accurate figures exist.

The Sant'Egidio Community was founded in Rome in 1968 and got involved in sponsoring peace negotiations in the 1980s when it found that its humanitarian action in Mozambique would be largely useless without peace.

The community has close ties to the Vatican and for many years has made a speciality of parallel and discreet diplomatic activities, earning the name of the "little Trastevere United Nations" from the district of Rome where it is situated.