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Cablegate: Senegal Scenesetter for First Lady (Flotus)

VZCZCXRO1509
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1323/01 1720805
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210805Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8606
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC
RUEHLS/AMEMBASSY LUSAKA 0159
RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 0460
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 DAKAR 001323

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP PGOV ECON EAID PREL KMCA SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL SCENESETTER FOR FIRST LADY (FLOTUS)
LAURA BUSH

DAKAR 00001323 001.2 OF 005


SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) As the Mission and the Government of Senegal
(GOS) prepare to host you, President Abdoulaye Wade
has just changed Prime Ministers and reshuffled his
cabinet. 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, which 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 took place on
June 3, but most of the major opposition parties
boycotted them, allowing the ruling Senegalese
Democratic party (PDS) and its allies to capture 131
of the 150 seats in the National Assembly that met for
the first time on June 20. 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 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

DAKAR 00001323 002.2 OF 005


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 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 provides
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 failig health of its leader,
the potential for disrupions, and a resulting influx
of refugees to Seneal. Wade traveled to Conakry in
March to undersore his support for Prime Minister
Lansana Kouyae and to call international attention to
Guinea'splight. Also, the sometimes erratic behavior

DAKAR 00001323 003.2 OF 005


of 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. Peace Corps and USAID
collaborated to develop the garden you will visit.
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 English-language materials to Islamic
schools and libraries. The proposed MCA Compact would
more than double annual U.S. assistance, completing a
toll road the length of the "Cap Vert" peninsula to
decongest the capital and connect it to a proposed
Free Trade Zone and new airport.

11. (U) In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, the United States
provided about USD 55 million in assistance to
Senegal. In FY 2007, we are providing even more,
including USD 16.7 million under the President's
Malaria Initiative (PMI), USD 6.6 million to combat
HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and USD 5 million for middle
school construction, textbooks and scholarships for
girls. Fact sheets on the status of presidential
initiatives in Senegal will be available during the
visit.

COMMITMENT TO REGIONAL SECURITY/COOPERATION WITH U.S.
--------------------------------------------- --------
12. (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
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

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-----------------------
13. (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 Labor Chao's April 2007 visit and
invitations to three 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.

14. (SBU) On terrorism, Senegal was 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.

15. (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, President 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
------------------
16. (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 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
-----------
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

DAKAR 00001323 005.2 OF 005


(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

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