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Viewing cable 09DAKAR1376, Senegal: Campaigning for the 2012 is Already Underway

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09DAKAR1376 2009-11-05 07:07 2010-12-09 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Dakar
VZCZCXRO9587
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1376/01 3090748
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050748Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3307
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001376 

SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL AND INR/AA 
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM ECON SG
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 standstill. 

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 popular 
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... 
------------------------------- 

5. (SBU) President Wade is in a difficult political situation as his 
old age, the rejection of his son by the Senegalese people, and the 
fact that he has black widow-like eliminated all potential young 
leaders who could succeed him have left him cornered. Meanwhile, as  most Senegalese struggle to make ends meet and have lost hope in the  face of massive unemployment, Wade and his entourage are engulfed in  financial scandals. A couple of weeks after his attempt to bribe  former IMF Resrep Alex Segura, Wade had CFA 52 million stolen from  his apartment in Paris by a member of his entourage. A close  relative of Wade told Embassy that this is not the first time the  President has been a victim of such theft. 

6. (SBU) However, the opposition remains paralyzed and has so far 
failed to capitalize on recent PDS setbacks because no decision has 
been made as to whether Benno will unite behind one candidate or 
whether they will respect the charter of good governance that they 
signed in May 2009 following a National Dialogue. This dialogue 
envisioned a transition government to reform the political system 

DAKAR 00001376 002 OF 002 

from a presidential to a parliamentarian one. 


Views of opposition leaders 
--------------------------- 

7. (SBU) Ibrahima Sene, Deputy Leader of the Party of Independence 
and Labor (PIT), told Poloff that his party will stick to the 
conclusions of the National Dialogue. He supports a short 
transition period of twelve to eighteen months, during which time a 
new constitution and electoral law would be voted in and a 
parliamentary regime introduced. For his part former Prime Minister 
Moustapha Niasse, the leader of AFP who is 72, wishes to be the 
candidate of Benno but faces strong opposition from the Socialist 
Party. Niasse is a rich and well-known politician who financially 
and politically contributed to Wade's victory in 2000. For Niasse, 
this is his last chance to be President as he nears the end of his 
political career. He denied to PolCouns rumors that he was solely 
focused on being the candidate of Benno, adding that he supports a 
serious debate on institutional reforms and the nature of Senegal's 
political system. He "is open to all possibilities" as long as the 
goal of Benno remains to remove Wade from power. 

8. (SBU) Ousmane Tanor Dieng, the leader of the Socialist Party, 
told PolCouns he was against a transition and that the Benno 
candidate should be determined by primaries. It is not clear that 
Benno has the required organization or even desire to go to 
primaries given the large number of small party leaders who would 
lose their influence in such a selection process. However, Tanor 
confessed that if Wade eliminates the second round runoff, they will 
have no other choice but to agree on one candidate. Talla Sylla, 
the fiery young leader of Jeuf Jeul, indicated that there is a 
consensus being formed around Niasse as the candidate and he 
predicted that Tanor will be isolated if he persists with the idea 
of holding primaries. Macky Sall, the leader of APR/Yakaar, a party 
he created after Wade removed him as Chairman of the National 
Assembly, told Poloff that he neither believed in changing the 
current system nor in Benno having one candidate. He then boldly 
declared himself ready to run against Wade adding that both Niasse 
and Tanor are "outdated." 

9. (SBU) COMMENT: Over the last thirty years Wade has proved to be a savvy politician who has always managed to turn around the most 
difficult of situations. But his defeat in the local elections of 
March 2009 is a clear indication that the voters are tired and have 
grown weary of Wade's increasingly aloof administration. Now the 
challenge is for Benno to unite and clearly articulate their vision 
for political, economic, and institutional reforms. However, of 
greater worry is what would happen in the event that Wade dies 
before designating a successor. As it stands, both the PDS and 
Benno are internally, deeply divided and there are real concerns 
that neither group is ready to fill the gap in event of Wade's 
demise, which would likely lead to a period of vicious internecine 
political fighting in both camps and general instability in the 
country. End Comment. 

Bernicat