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Cablegate: Senegal-President of National Assembly Defies

VZCZCXRO2601
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #2438 0010003
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010003Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9809
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS DAKAR 002438

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL-PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEFIES
PRESIDENT WADE

REF: Dakar 2287

SUMMARY
--------
1. (SBU) Pressed on December 28 by President Wade to
resign from his position as Chairman of the National
Assembly, Macky Sall, one of Wade's former Prime
Ministers, refused to do so indicating that he had
"done no wrong." This is an unprecedented riposte
for the ruling PDS (Democratic Party of Senegal)
where Wade?s authority is seldom challenged. The
crisis between the President and the Chairman of the
National Assembly is now reaching a climax and
heralds more political turbulence ahead. END
SUMMARY.

NO LEGAL EXIT
-------------
2. (SBU) Generally, when Wade faces opposition from a
member of his party he does not hesitate to use
extreme measures such as dissolving institutions to
rid himself of dissenters. In the case of Macky Sall
however, the Senegalese Constitution prevents Wade
from dissolving the National Assembly before June
2009 (i.e. two years after the Assembly's election).
Although legislation to reduce the term of office of
a National Assembly Chair from five to one year is in
the pipeline, Sall could constitutionally still lead
the Assembly for at least another six months. Doudou
Wade, the leader of the majority and Wade's nephew
commented: "this is too long, he must resign to
respect the will of the President or we will no
longer respect his authority."

DIGGING THE TRENCHES
--------------------
3. (SBU) President Wade has instructed Doudou Wade
to orchestrate a campaign to force Sall to resign.
It is reported that he has obtained signatures from
107 of the 150 Members of Parliament for a motion to
that effect. However, Sall has made it clear that
these signatures calling for his resignation are not
legally binding and he will not resign as a matter of
principle. A staff member of the Assembly told
Embassy that the government has already started to
tighten the Assembly's financial spigot and this may
be part of a strategy to weaken Sall's leadership.
Meanwhile, Sall has initiated a counter offensive by
organizing a group of Deputies led by Aliou Dia who
are calling for the independence of the legislative
branch. Dia indicated that he has support from one
third of the Assembly and will conduct "a media
campaign." Sall has also activated his ethnic
political base in the River valley area (north of
Senegal) and some religious leaders from that area
are already underlining Sall's significant
contributions to Wade's reelection last February and
thus that he deserves to Chair the Assembly.

COMMENT
-------
4. (SBU) Wade's battle with the Chair of the
National Assembly is just another chapter in the
post-Wade succession battle. Macky Sall, who
believes that he is a legitimate contender after
serving both as Prime Minister and leading Wade?s
Party to legislative victory, is not ready to stay on
the sidelines and let Wade's son Karim assume the
mantel of the party's future nominee. Both Wade and
Sall are determined to avoid defeat in this
confrontation. Though this is a purely political
battle within the PDS, it has lead to a much needed
public debate about the importance of independence
for the legislative branch and the impact of
executive interference.

PIAZZA

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