Senegal: Campaigning for the 2012 is Already Underway

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17 December 2010

This cable was created on 05 November 2009, according to WikiLeaks.
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Senegal: Campaigning for the 2012 is Already Underway
¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Although presidential elections are not slated until February 2012, the
ruling Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS) and the opposition Benno coalition (unity in Wolof)
continue to spar against one another while internal debates rage as to who will represent
them in the election. President Abdoulaye Wade's plan to have his son Karim succeed him
is not popular among the Senegalese, a fact that led him to announce that he will run in
2012 (at the age of 86) for a seven-year term. This comes amid rumors of yet another
constitutional amendment in the works - this time aimed at eliminating a second round runoff
- thus increasing the chances of Wade being reelected. End Summary.
Call for political dialogue
--------------------------¶2. (SBU) Most of Senegal's leading opposition parties are not represented in the National
Assembly after they boycottd the 2007 legislative elections. Following those elections, the
opposition called for a politica dialogue to address the electoral law and to reorm voter
registration. Until the PDS lost big inrecnt local elections, Wade had continually refsed this
call, saying that he would not bail out an opposition that was paying for bad political choices.
However, now a new paradigm exists whereby political dialogue is less urgent for the
opposition but more so for Wade.
Out Come the Skeletons
---------------------¶3. (SBU) In July, the opposition demanded that Wade include in any agenda of dialogue a
discussion of the assassination of Judge Seye in 1993. At the time Wade was accused of
being its instigator, a rumor that gained traction when he pardoned all the perpetrators who
were jailed in the case after winning the Presidency in 2000. Wade's response to this
request left the opposition astounded. He accused the Socialist Party, who had ruled the
country from 1960 to 2000, of being behind the assassination of Police Chief Sadibou
Ndiaye in 1989 and the mysterious deaths of two young female albinos whose
disappearance was never clarified. He threatened to reveal more if the opposition continued
down this path. The opposition duly dropped the matter and, in a letter dated October 8,
they proposed nine points of discussion for a dialogue. These included: urgent social
issues, the electoral system, the Casamance crisis, public finances, political and institutional
governance, liberties and the rule of law, the business environment and employment.
President Wade accepted all nine points, even though he had initially refused to discuss
electoral and human rights issues, arguing that the electoral system was good enough to
allow the opposition to win local elections and that Senegal's election to the United Nation's
Human Rights Council underlined his government's positive track record. However, his
acceptance came with preconditions. He demanded that the issues of public finance be
discussed with government ministers live on camera in the presence of religious leaders and
diplomats. The opposition rejected these preconditions and the process is now at a
Wade Unites his Satraps
----------------------¶4. (SBU) Wade's most recent political strategy aims to reduce dissent in his coalition. By
appointing senior dissident leader Aminata Tall to a top position in the cabinet and
negotiating with his former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, who is rumored to be making a
comeback to reenergize the PDS, Wade is hoping to create a grand presidential coalition
that will once again carry him to power. However, the reality is that this strategy is fragile, as
former Prime Minister Macky Sall is opposed to returning to Wade's coalition and Idrissa
Seck and Karim Wade detest one another.
The President is cornered, but...


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