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Cablegate: Senegal's Opposition Put to the Test

VZCZCXRO6951
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1674 1931821
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121821Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5724
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001674

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/W, AF/RSA AND INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KFRD EFIS SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL'S OPPOSITION PUT TO THE TEST

REF: A. DAKAR 00565

B. DAKAR 00368
C. DAKAR 01516
D. DAKAR 01588

SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) The opposition, already fractured, has been put to
the test in recent weeks. On June 30, the terms of office
for Senegalese deputies should have ended, but the National
Assembly remains in session thanks to a 2005 act extending
the terms by eight months (Ref A). Despite debate within the
parties and society at large, only a handful of MPs walked
out. Two high-profile opposition leaders are menaced with
investigation and prosecution over charges stemming from
years ago, charges that portray them as corrupt and
ineffectual managers. Ultimately, efforts to use these
charges as political weapons could backfire. END SUMMARY.

TOYOTA LAND CRUISERS AND PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. (SBU) Several opposition leaders called for MPs to
protest the Wade-inspired law extending the National Assembly
term to February 2007 (when elections are scheduled to take
place) by abandoning their seats on June 30. 25 of the 29
opposition MPs, though, decided to stay. Deputies earn USD
2,500 per year, and most do not have any other income. Wade
eased the choice for each member of the Assembly with a
salary increase of 300 percent, a four-wheel drive vehicle,
and a piece of land in Dakar on which to build a house. One
opposition leader labeled MPs remaining in the Assembly
(including those from opposition parties) as "illegal" and
"usurping power." Another, though, more understanding, said
it was natural: "Many of these people have never even driven
a car before, and now they have brand new Land Cruisers. Of
course, they're not going to give them up."

3. (SBU) The dispute over leaving parliament was by one
account extremely damaging to presidential candidate
Moustapha Niasse and his Alliance des Force de Progres. The
debate had apparently simmered for months within the AFP as
Niasse prepared to leave the Assembly while his followers
leaned toward staying. Within the opposition coalition,
meanwhile, Niasse apparently clashed sharply with Ousmane
Tanor Dieng, who remains in the Assembly with all of his
Socialist MPs.

OLD SKELETONS IN THE OPPOSITION CLOSET
--------------------------------------
4. (U) In an additional challenge, Wade has called for
resuming investigation of cases of mismanagement involving
both Niasse and Tanor. Niasse, who before becoming Wade's
Prime Minister from 2000-2001 was Minister of Foreign Affairs
from 1991 to 1998, is accused of participating in selling
diplomatic passports to businessmen and others from mainland
China. Tanor, who served as ex-President Diouf's Cabinet
Director, was allegedly involved in secretly selling fishing
licenses to Russian ship owners on behalf of the GOS to
replenish Socialist political coffers.

COMMENT
-------
5. (SBU) Allegations against Niasse and Tanor are pointed
attempts to demonstrate that not all charges of corruption
involve the ruling party, and to widen cleavages already
magnified by calls for Deputies to step down from the
National Assembly on June 30. Such political gaming carries
risks for Wade, though. Tanor, if prosecuted, could be
tempted to reveal information to which he had access when he
supervised all presidential services, including the
intelligence community. Moreover, it may be shortshighted
for Wade to pursue Tanor as a way to cast blame for Senegal's
fishing and illegal migration problems on someone else (Ref C
and D). Fishermen and NGOs may remind the public that,
whoever was to blame originally, no significant or concrete
steps have been taken during Wade's presidency to help the
fishing industry.

6. (SBU) In addition, now that Senegal and mainland China
have established diplomatic ties and China has increased
offers of investment and aid, dredging up Niasse's case and
accusations that Chinese fraudulently obtained passports to
help them get to European countries, could serve as a first
test of the strength of those ties. END COMMENT.
JACOBS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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