Senegal and Gambia to arrange transportation dispute

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was in the Senegalese capital Friday to mediate talks aimed at resolving a transportation dispute between Senegal and Gambia. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, appointed Obasanjo last month to help resolve a feud triggered by Gambian authorities' decision to double ferry charges in August.

Obasanjo met behind closed doors with Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade and Gambia's Yahya Jammeh. Before departing for Nigeria, Obasanjo described the meeting as "very frank and very calm."

"There have been difficulties in the relationship between Senegal and Gambia, but we have been able to put everything on the table," Obasanjo told reporters at a Dakar hotel. "I'm very happy at what we've been able to achieve."

Obasanjo gave no details and Jammeh and Wade continued private discussions after he left

Gambia's decision angered many Senegalese truck drivers who depend on the ferry.

The tiny nation of Gambia juts into the middle of Senegal, separating the producers in the larger country's tropical, agrarian south from consumers in the arid, industrial north.

Many have boycotted the Gambian ferry, preferring to take a longer route through the eastern part of Senegal along treacherous roads.

The newly elected Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira also arrived Friday for separate talks with his defeated presidential election rival Malam Bacai Sanha and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade on the current political situation in Bissau, a Senegalese government official said on condition of anonymity saying he was not authorized to talk on the issue.

On photo: Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.