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Portugal says it has had no contact with rebels

[CAR] CAR leader Francois Bozize at the presidential palace, the "Palais de la Renaissance" - May 2003
The electoral commission announced on 1 February that Francois Bozizé won the 23 January election with 66 percent of the vote (IRIN)

Lisbon has had "no contact" with Senegalese separatist rebels, nor have they informed it of their reported desire for Portuguese mediation in the Casamance crisis, an official of Portugal's Foreign Ministry told IRIN on Thursday.

"There has been no contact," the official said in response to a report on Wednesday by the Portuguese news agency, Lusa, which said rebels of the Mouvement de forces democratique de la Casamance (MFDC) wanted Lisbon to mediate and end 17 years of war in the area.

Lusa had quoted the MFDC's secretary-general, Mamadou Sane -who is also its overseas spokesman- as saying Portuguese foreign minister "Jaime Gama could play a crucial role in the search for a solution".

Casamance's rebellion has recently been closely linked to events in Guinea Bissau, where a furore about arms shipments by some Guinea Bissau authorities to the MFDC resulted in the overthrow of President Joao Bernardo Vieira.

Sane told Lusa that the conflict dated to a convention signed in 1886 when Portugal, the former colonial power in Guinea Bissau, ceded Casamance to then French colony of Senegal.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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