Search

 

Cablegate: Senegal Scenesetter for Vice Admirals Stufflebeem And

VZCZCXRO4226
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1039/01 1341210
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141210Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUCOCGR/COMLANTAREA COGARD PORTSMOUTH VA//AE/ACS/AX//
RHMFIUU/COMUSNAVEUR NAPLES IT
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8292
RULSSGG/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-00I/CG-11/CG-86
RUCXGRD/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 DAKAR 001039

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF, AF/W, AF/RSA, PM/RSAT AND INR/AA
NSC FOR AF SENIOR DIRECTOR PITTMAN
PARIS FOR POL - D'ELIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP MARR PGOV ECON EAID PREL KMCA SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL SCENESETTER FOR VICE ADMIRALS STUFFLEBEEM AND
PETERMAN

SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) As the Mission and the Government of Senegal (GOS) prepare
to host you, Senegal is preparing for legislative elections on June
3, 2007. The Senegalese are proud to have a predominantly Muslim
democracy that preaches tolerance and visibly supports the United
States in promoting peace and combating terrorism. The GOS is
seeking to enhance economic growth to reinforce its prospects at the
polls. Growth has remained steady at five percent over the last
decade, though growth fell to two percent in 2006. Despite high
rates of poverty and illiteracy, Senegal retains a high degree of
political stability and coherence thus enabling the GOS to be a
diplomatic player on a continent replete with conflicts. With U.S.
training and assistance, Senegal has also become one of the world's
top ten contributors of peacekeepers.

2. (SBU) Senegal aspires to become a more significant trading
partner, but Senegalese producers have yet to make serious efforts
to tap into the U.S. market, preferring to focus their exports on
regional and European countries. The overall economic malaise,
especially in the agriculture and fishing sectors, has resulted in
mass illegal migration of Senegalese to the Canary Islands (and
hence, the European Union), a thorny issue for the GOS. The
prospect of a successful Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Compact
offers a realistic potential for breaking with the past. Senegal
must improve the investment climate and push forward more vigorously
with reforms to strengthen its fragile judiciary that is lacking
sufficient resources and often subject to external influences. END
SUMMARY.

AN IMPERFECT DEMOCRACY
----------------------
3. (SBU) Senegal is at an interesting juncture in its
post-independence history. On February 25, President Abdoulaye Wade
(pronounced "wahd") won 56 percent of the vote in a field of 15
candidates, with 70 percent of registered Senegalese voters going to
the polls. Twice-postponed parliamentary elections are slated for
June 3, but most of the major opposition parties have decided to
boycott them. In 2000 and 2007, Wade won open, peaceful and highly
competitive elections due to a strong Senegalese national desire for
change after nearly 40 years of Socialist Party governments. Having
come under tough scrutiny and criticism for not having realized many
of his campaign promises, he has undertaken major public works
projects that benefited him politically.

4. (SBU) Wade and his party, the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS),
have benefited from Senegal's institutionalization of democratic
values, respect for human rights, expansion of tolerance,
advancement of women's rights, and freedom of expression in all its
forms. As a consequence, the standards by which the performance of
his government is being measured are admittedly higher than those of
his predecessors, a healthy sign that the large majority of
Senegalese expect and demand democratic behavior from this
government.

SENEGAL'S UNIQUE BRAND OF ISLAM
-------------------------------
5. (SBU) Senegal is 95 percent Muslim, and it is instinctively
resistant to religious extremism. One reason for this moderation is
Senegal's distinctive and flexible interpretation of Islam. Another
may be its geographic position at the western edge of the Islamic
world. But perhaps the principal reason is the pervasive influence
of Sufi brotherhoods that are hostile to external influences that
they perceive as undercutting their own stature. The majority of
Senegalese identify themselves with one of the four principal
Brotherhoods (Tidjane, Mouride, Qu'adria and Layenne). Religious
chiefs are called marabouts. Followers or talibes are expected to
attach themselves to a marabout, and this allegiance is like a
feeling for a father. In many ways the marabouts have replaced the
traditional village chiefs. Politicians use these affiliations to
advance their policies.

SENEGAL'S ECONOMY: AN ACHILLES HEEL
-----------------------------------
6. (SBU) There is general economic stability, and GDP growth
averaged five percent annually for the last ten years. It fell to
two percent in 2006. More than half the population lives in
poverty; one-third to one-half have no reliable employment; the
agricultural sector, which employs 60 percent of the population, is
weak and unreliable; fishing, another big livelihood provider, has

DAKAR 00001039 002 OF 004


also been depressed mostly due to diminished fish stocks. Most
youth see emigration as a panacea, as shown by the recent flight of
thousands of Senegalese, via small and dangerous boats, to the
Canary Islands -- an entry to the European Union. On a more
positive note, Senegal graduated from the Highly Indebted Poor
Countries program. In 2005 and 2006, the IMF and the World Bank
forgave over USD 1 billion in multilateral debt, potentially freeing
up over USD 80 million per year for poverty reduction. Despite
these successes, the business environment remains difficult.
Corruption is an issue, and while Wade has said the right things
about combating it, members of his own family are often rumored to
demand bribes and percentages of investments. In the coming year,
Senegal will face a serious budget crunch and will look to donors
for assistance. Most traditional donors, for their part, are
hesitant to provide budget support without greater transparency and
accountability of expenditures by the GOS.

CLANDESTINE MIGRATION: SOCIAL ISSUE OF THE DAY
--------------------------------------------- -
7. (U) Starting in mid-May 2006, the flow of illegal African
migrants landing on the shores of Spain's Canary Islands reached
alarming levels. Over 27,000 illegal migrants, more than half of
whom are Senegalese, were detained by Spanish authorities in 2006.
Of the 27,000, more than 5,000 migrants were repatriated to Senegal.
This has generated extensive press coverage by the local and
international media and has become a priority for the Government.
On October 10, Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio and
his Spanish counterpart, Miguel Angel Moratinos, signed a framework
agreement paving the way for legal immigration based on Spanish job
market needs. Based on the agreement, Spain will provide Senegal
with up to USD 19 million annually over five years. Several other
European countries and the European Commission have also donated
funds and equipment to improve surveillance of the Senegalese coast
and improve border enforcement.

FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES START IN NEIGHBORHOOD
--------------------------------------------- --
8. (SBU) Senegal devotes major efforts to maintaining stability on
its borders. While politically Wade has worked hard to expand
Senegal's role on the continent and in world affairs, his government
actually expends real resources (financial, material and
humanitarian) to its near neighbors. For example, Wade has been
engaged in Guinea-Bissau since the September 2003 coup d'etat.
Characteristic of Senegal's regional anxieties, Wade and his
government continue to express great concern over the eventual
transition in nearby Guinea in light of the failing health of its
leader, the potential for disruptions, and a resulting influx of
refugees to Senegal. Wade traveled to Conakry in March to
underscore his support for Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate and to
call international attention to Guinea's plight. Also, the
sometimes erratic behavior of the recently re-elected Gambian
President Jammeh, who rules the strategically located strip of land
that juts into Senegal, raises Senegalese concerns over The Gambia's
stability.

CASAMANCE CONFLICT
------------------
9. (SBU) Internal conflict in Senegal's southernmost region of the
Casamance has regional security implications because it borders The
Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. In the last year, there has been an
increase in fighting between factions of the Casamance separatist
movement in southern Senegal and the Senegalese military. Reports
of banditry in the area have also increased. At least seven
civilians died and over 35 were wounded in security incidents in the
Casamance in 2006. We continue to use our influence with GOS
civilian and military institutions as well as with representatives
of local communities in the Casamance to achieve reconciliation and
a lasting resolution to the conflict.

U.S. ASSISTANCE
---------------
10. (SBU) In addition to supporting the Casamance peace process,
U.S. assistance to Senegal has focused on Muslim outreach, health,
education, export promotion, promotion of women's rights, good
governance and decentralization. Approximately 150 Peace Corps
Volunteers are involved in health, education, natural resource
management and micro-enterprise programs. Our model Muslim outreach
program consists of assisting daaras (Koranic schools), sending
imams, marabouts and Islamic scholars to the United States on
International Visitor programs and donating Arabic-, French- and

DAKAR 00001039 003 OF 004


English-language materials to Islamic schools and libraries. The
proposed MCA Compact would more than double annual U.S. aid,
building an industrial platform 25 miles east of Dakar to decongest
the capital, create thousands of jobs in agro-industry and other
sectors, and help GDP growth to reach eight percent per annum.

COMMITMENT TO REGIONAL SECURITY/COOPERATION WITH U.S.
--------------------------------------------- --------
11. (SBU) Senegal has been a loyal partner and has served as an
operational base for every U.S. deployment to the region. The GOS
has supported the United States by deploying troops to the Gulf War,
Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, the Central African Republic, East Timor,
Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC), and, most recently, Sudan. Senegal was the first
African nation to sign up for the African Crisis Response Initiative
(ACRI) [now the African Contingency Operations Training and
Assistance (ACOTA)] program that provides military assistance and
training to African militaries with the capability of participating
in peacekeeping operations, principally in Africa. ACOTA
complements what remains the largest International Military
Education and Training (IMET) program in Sub-Saharan Africa. This
has paid major dividends through the engagement of Senegalese troops
in their traditional areas of interest (Cote d'Ivoire) and in areas
of traditional interest to us (Liberia).

THE U.S.-SENEGAL AGENDA
-----------------------
12. (SBU) For the U.S., Senegal represents our most important
francophone partner in Africa. Perhaps not coincidentally,
President Wade perceives himself as a good friend of President Bush.
He basked in the glow of the President's visit in July 2003, his
December 2004 visit to the White House, Secretary of State Rice and
Secretary of Agriculture Johanns' July 2005 visits, Secretary of

SIPDIS
Labor Chao's April 2007 visit and invitations to two G-8 summits.
For Senegal, the U.S. represents an attractive alternative to
complete dependence on France. We also embody values that Wade
would like to establish in Senegal, particularly economic ones.
However, there is a realistic appreciation among knowledgeable
Senegalese that the U.S. is not likely to supplant France as its
principal partner any time in the foreseeable future.

13. (SBU) On terrorism, Senegal has been among the first African
states to recognize the dangers posed to its own security by
international terrorism. It has cooperated actively with the U.S.
in the global war on terrorism, and Senegal has ratified 12 of the
13 key anti-terrorist conventions and protocols identified by the
U.S. The National Assembly enacted counterterrorism legislation at
the end of January. Senegal is also leading regional efforts to
combat terrorist financing. Intelligence sharing and vigilance
along Senegal's borders is good and continues to improve through
well-established channels. We have raised our concerns with
Senegal's leaders over the potential for unwanted influences from
radical Muslim states, such as Iran.

14. (SBU) We continue to scrutinize Senegal's relationship with
Iran, Libya, Venezuela and Cuba. Thus far, Senegal has done a good
job in compartmentalizing and managing those relationships to ensure
that they do not act to undermine Senegal's stability. We also
continue to remind Senegal's leaders that too close an embrace will
not be well understood nor well appreciated in Washington. Thus
far, Wade has gotten the message. With respect to the situation in
Iraq, Senegal has been more neutral than during the first Gulf War.
(Senegal proudly provided troops to help evict Saddam from Kuwait.)
Senegal resisted French pressure to take a more critical posture,
and in fact Wade publicly noted his satisfaction that Saddam had
been removed from power. Since diplomatic relations with China were
re-established in October 2005, the Chinese have played an
increasingly visible role as a development partner, and the market
share of Chinese products, especially cheap consumer goods and
equipment and vehicles. Large-scale foreign investment, however,
has come mostly from France, Morocco, and India.

INVESTMENT CLIMATE
------------------
15. (U) Potential investors, and current businesses, are concerned
about Senegal's energy situation, about the slow pace of
establishing an effective and transparent judiciary that understands
commercial issues, about needed education reform, especially the
lack of vocational education, and about burdensome labor laws that
deter hiring and make dismissals for cause difficult. Through our

DAKAR 00001039 004 OF 004


assistance programs and the donor community's Private Sector Working
Group -- which is chaired by the U.S. Ambassador -- we are actively
working with the GOS in advancing policy reforms, such as reducing
the time and cost to start a business.

BOTTOM LINE
-----------
16. (SBU) Senegal under Wade is a good partner, very sympathetic to
U.S. interests, and regularly seeking ways to deepen the
relationship. Senegal is eager to receive critical Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding, and, though the GOS is eager to
conclude its Compact in 2007, the due diligence required to complete
the project's scope of work will likely push the signing date to
2008. Economically, Senegal continues to seek U.S. partners and
participants to improve its economy, especially in agro-industry,
telecommunications, energy and transport. Bilateral relations are
very warm and continue to deepen as we expand our areas of
cooperation and seek additional sectors of mutual benefit. Senegal
also carefully considers potential U.S. reactions to its particular
foreign policy decisions, often responding favorably when we express
our concerns, or when we seek GOS support. In sum, Senegal enjoys a
close identification with the United States and many of our policies
and values.

JACOBS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

COP24: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>

ALSO:

New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink

Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO: