Cablegate: Senegal Scenesetter for a/S Harty

DE RUEHDK #2703/01 3121801
P 081801Z NOV 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) As the Mission and the Government of Senegal (GOS)
prepare to host you, Senegal is preparing for presidential
and parliamentary elections in February 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 there are signs of a slowdown in 2006.
Despite high rates of poverty and illiteracy, Senegal retains
a high degree of political stability and coherence thus
enabling 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

2. (SBU) Senegal aspires to become a more significant
trading partner, but internal barriers to export-driven
growth and continuing reliance upon foreign assistance have
greatly retarded these hopes. This has resulted in mass
illegal migration of Senegalese to the Canary Islands, 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. In fact, the investigation and prosecution of
leading politicians and journalists in 2005 and 2006 has
tarnished Senegal,s impressive human rights record. END

3. (SBU) Senegal is at an interesting juncture in its
post-independence history, six years through the seven-year
tenure of President Abdoulaye Wade (pronounced &wahd8) and
a few months away from presidential and parliamentary
elections. He won an open, peaceful and highly competitive
election in March 2000 due to a strong Senegalese national
desire for change after nearly 40 years of Socialist Party
governments. In fact, having raised expectations somewhat
unrealistically, Wade has come under tough scrutiny and
criticism for not having realized many of his campaign
promises. He has recently undertaken major public works
projects that he hopes will benefit 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.

5. (SBU) Senegal is 95 percent Muslim, and it is
instinctively resistant to religious extremism in general and
Islamic fundamentalism in particular. 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
the Sufi brotherhoods, homegrown societies 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.

6. (SBU) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issues
diplomatic and official passports to marabouts as a courtesy.
When President Wade won elections in 2000, he initially
required all marabouts to turn in their diplomatic and
official passports and declared that he would restrict
issuance of such passport in the future. Such attempts have
failed and he has now approved issuance of far more
diplomatic and official passports than the previous
Presidents. As a result, Italy started requiring visas for

DAKAR 00002703 002 OF 004

diplomatic and official passports in December 2004, bringing
it into alignment with most other European countries. In
addition to issuing passports, the MFA also routinely issues
diplomatic notes to marabouts, regardless of their status in
the community. The issue of undocumented Senegalese in the
U.S. is an important issue for khalifs who have talibes
living there illegally. Even President Wade has raised the
issue of undocumented Senegalese in the U.S.

7. (SBU) There is general economic stability, and GDP growth
has averaged five percent annually for the last ten years,
but is likely to fall to three 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;
and most youth see emigration as a panacea, as shown by the
recent flight of thousands of Senegalese to the Canary
Islands. 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.

--------------------------------------------- -
8. (U) Starting in mid-May, the flow of illegal African
migrants landing on the shores of Spain's Canary Islands
reached alarming levels. According to October press reports,
over 27,000 illegal migrants, more than half of whom are
Senegalese, have been detained by Spanish authorities. Of
the 27,000, more than 4,000 migrants have been 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.

9. 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. However, there is concern that repatriated and
disgruntled Senegalese coupled with increased border
enforcement could become a liability for President Wade
during the February 2007 elections. There are reports that
Wade's advisors are pushing to bring a halt to flights
returning illegal Senegalese migrants from the Canaries.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
10. (SBU) Senegal devotes major efforts to maintaining a
modicum of 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 and the potential for disruptions there
and a resulting influx of refugees to Senegal. 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.

11. (SBU) Internal conflict in Senegal,s southernmost
region of the Casamance has regional security implications
because it borders The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Good
progress has been made to lower the level of conflict thus
easing border tensions; however, in the last several months,
there has been an increase in fighting between factions of
the Casamance separatist movement in southern Senegal and the
Senegalese military, particularly in the northern part of the
Ziguinchor region. Reports of banditry in the area have also
increased. On September 1, an American was killed when her
vehicle hit a newly placed mine on an unpaved road in this

DAKAR 00002703 003 OF 004

area. Senegal's Consular Information Sheet reflects this
security problem. We continue to use our influence with GOS
civilian and military institutions as well as with community
representatives in the Casamance to achieve reconciliation
and a lasting resolution to the conflict.

12. (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
to the United States on International Visitor programs and
donating Arabic- and 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.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
13. (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, 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).

14. (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 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.

15. (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. President
Wade has also sent a set of draft laws to the Ministry of
Interior that would expand the definition of terrorist acts
and increase punishments for these acts. 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.

16. (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

DAKAR 00002703 004 OF 004

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.

17. (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
the GOS is eager to conclude its Compact in 2007.
Economically, Senegal continues to seek U.S. partners and
participants to improve its economy, especially in
agro-industry 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.

© Scoop Media

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