Cablegate: Senegal: Election Sitrep 2, 22:00 Gmt
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0427 0562206
ZNR UUUUU ZH
P 252206Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7641
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS DAKAR 000427
STATE FOR S/S-O, AF, AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL/AE AND INR/AA
PARIS FOR POL - D'ELIA
REF: DAKAR 0426
TAGS: PHUM ASEC KDEM PGOV PINS SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL: ELECTION SITREP 2, 22:00 GMT
1. SUMMARY: Turnout in Senegal's presidential election remains
heavy; so the Government extended voting until 23:00 GMT, with many
people voting by candlelight. Disorganization deterred an unknown
number of Senegalese from casting their ballots. Thousands of
potential voters had still not received or picked up their voter
cards by late on Sunday. There were multiple allegations of party
officials withholding voter cards or paying individuals not to vote.
Casamance rebels deterred others from voting either because of
February 24 attacks or threats. Touba appears to have experienced
the greatest problems, with 80 polling stations not opening until
noon and voters there being unsure of their polling stations,
forcing them to stand in long lines more than once. Some voters
threw away all of their 15 ballots, and others put their ballots in
envelopes in such a way that their votes were not secret. Some of
the "indelible" ink could be washed off, but there was little
evidence of multiple voting. Very preliminary results show
President Abdoulaye Wade in the lead. END SUMMARY.
2. Angry voters dismayed by organizational problems protested
peacefully in some of the Dakar suburbs or simply went home in
disgust. Fistfights broke out in some places when polling stations
closed with voters still in line.
3. A local radio station reported that the separatist Movement of
Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MFDC) has threatened to kill
those who vote, and that some Senegalese have crossed into The
Gambia for safety. Other media reports indicate that at least two
villages in the Casamance had not received replacement voting
materials after a rebel attack on February 24.
4. Many locations had hundreds of voters in line all day. Once in
the polling places, voters took up to five minutes to complete the
voting process, and some polling stations only utilized a single
voting booth. Frustration was evident as some voters waited only to
learn at the head of the lines, that they are registered at a
different polling station in the same location. The long lines
continued both at prefectures (for voters waiting to pick up their
voter identification cards) and at the polls themselves.
5. Due to heavy turnout and thousands of people still in line at
many polling stations at the planned closing time of 18:00 GMT, the
Ministry of Interior extended voting hours until 23:00. Not all
election commission officials received word of the extensions
though, and some polls closed with long lines of voters not having
cast their ballots. Senior Minister of Justice Cheikh Tidiane Sy
forced one St. Louis polling station that had closed to reopen.
Many locations have hundreds of voters in line.
6. Touba, the Mouride religious capital, appears to have
experienced the greatest problems, with 80 polling places not
opening until noon GMT and voters there being unsure of their
polling stations. For all intents and purposes, this is the first
time that residents of Touba have gone to the polls, which may
explain the disorganization.
VERY PRELIMINARY RESULTS
7. Mission observers and media report that with just 37,000 votes
counted, President Wade is leading; former Prime Minister Idrissa
Seck is in second; Socialist Party leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng is in
third; and former Prime Minister Moustapha Niasse is in fourth.
Embassy cautions against using this very small sample to conclude
that President Wade will win or whether a second round will be