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Democratic Forces Movement of Casamance (Senegal)

Mouvement Démocraitque des Forces de Casamance

Last modified: 2012-11-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: senegal | star (white) | casamance |
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[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 October 2012
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Presentation on MFDC

Casamance, the southernmost region of Senegal, is separated from the rest of the country by Gambia. The Jola people predominates in the region, while the Wolof people predominates in the rest of Senegal.

MDFC was founded in Sédhiou on 4 March 1947 by Victor Diatta, as a movement that supported BDS (Bloc Démocratique Sénégalais), the main anti-colonialist organization founded in 1948 by Léopold Senghor. The MFDC initially lowered its claim for the independence of Senegal, somewhat merging with BDS. However, MDFC was never formally suppressed. The aspiration to independence resumed in Casamance in 1981 when a strike broke out in the Djignabo College of Ziguinchor. On 26 December 1982, a movement reclaiming the heritage and name of the early MFDC organized a demonstration in  Ziguinchor, during which the flag of Senegal hoisted over the government building was replaced by a white flag, symbol of peace. The demonstrators claimed that the Senegalese flag was lowered down and handled with respect, while the government called it an act of sedition and organized a strong repression. Several members of MDFC formed a clandestine, armed movement, which started a guerilla still active three decades later, therefore one of the oldest guerilla in Africa.

A truce agreement signed on 31 May 1991, as well as subsequent peace agreements signed on 26 December 1999 and 16 March 2001, failed to restore peace; every time, a particular branch of MDFC, disapproving the agreement signed by the political branch of MDFC, quickly resumed armed struggle. In that period, Atika, the main armed branch of MDFC, was involved in violent actions that claimed several hundreds of lives and ravaged the economy of Casamance, once the most prosperous region of Senegal. Thousands of locals exiled to Guinea Bissau, Gambia, or other regions of Senegal. On 31 December 2004, the rebels and the government signed in Ziguinchor a new agreement that was deemed "historic", since all the MFDC factions, including Atika, validated it. After the death of its historical leader, the priest Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, in early 2007, the rebellion was expected to extinguish because of lack of leadership, internal division and misunderstanding between the armed and political branches of the movement. However, the most radical factions of MDFC resumed once again armed struggle. In December 2007, the government's emissary in Casamance was murdered; nobody claimed responsibility for the act, which was not condoned by the MDFC political branch. In June and September 2009, unrest reached new heights, yielding a massive intervention of the Senegalese Army and Air Force, aimed at suppressing the military bases of MDFC. The operation gained little success, while attacks against officials and ambushes against soldiers were not stopped. Another round of discussions between the rebels and the government, mediated by the Community of Sant'Egidio, was initiated on 13-14 October 2012 in Rome.
Ivan Sache, 30 October 2012

Flags of MFDC

The early flags of MDFC were reported by Lucien Philippe and Michel Corbic, Vexilla Francia No. 7/53, November 1997.

[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag] image by Ivan Sache, 22 February 2001
Flag unconfirmed.

MDFC initially adopted a plain green flag, symbolizing agriculture and forest of Casamance, and a complicated emblem. The authors do not say explicitly whether the emblem was used on the flag. During the 26 December 1982 demonstration, a white flag was hoisted. Minahan shows a possible rendition of this flag with a green star in the middle, not supported by any other available source.

1983 flag
[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag]  image by Jaume Ollé, 27 August 1999

In May 1983, MDFC started to use a vertically divided yellow-green-red flag, charged in the middle with a white star. Yellow stands for wealth, green for forest and agriculture, and red for blood. The white star stands for the Casamance people.

1988 flag
[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag] image by Jaume Ollé, 27 August 1999

In March 1986, Mamadou Nkrumah Sané, then jailed, replaced the "confusing" yellow stripe by a white stripe. Approved by Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, the flag was officially adopted on 5 February 1988. Whether the second flag actually superseded the first one is not known.

[Mouvement des Forces democratiques de Casamance flag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 October 2012

Two recent photos indicate that MDFC - or, at least, one of its armed branches - uses a new flag, designed with a different geometrical arrangement of the elements of the flag adopted in 1983. The flag is horizontally divided green-yellow with a red triangle placed along the hoist, charged with a white star tilted to the upper hoist.

The two photos showing the flag are, unfortunately, undated and without caption, but they are linked to recent articles on the conflict:

Ivan Sache, 30 October 2012