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Cablegate: Ivorian Reggae Star Pnged From Senegal

VZCZCXRO5551
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #2410 3531136
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191136Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9776
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 002410

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINS SOCI PINR SG
SUBJECT: Ivorian Reggae Star PNGed from Senegal

REF: Dakar 2287

1. (SBU) Summary: Famed Ivorian Reggae star, Tiken Jah Facoly, was
recently declared persona non grata in Senegal after commenting that
if President Wade loved his people, he should step down from power.
This decision once again spotlights the arbitrary nature of
Senegal's judicial system and brings into question the extent of
freedom of speech in Senegal. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During a concert on December 12, Ivorian reggae star Tiken
Jah Facoly told a rapturous audience that Wade should leave power
and that if he does not want his son, Karim, to be questioned by the
National Assembly he should leave him at home (Ref A). Facoly, well
known for his attacks against African leaders he sees as corrupt,
was subsequently declared persona non grata in Senegal by the
Interior Ministry for his "insolent and discourteous" remarks and
was barred from ever entering the country again. This decision was
taken on the personal initiative of hard-line Interior Minister
Ousmane Ngom. In an interview, the Minister tried to justify the
decision by saying that people cannot just come to another country
and speak out against a sitting president. He then went on to say
that they could have taken more draconian measures but chose not to
and that Facoly needed to write a letter to the Senegalese
authorities to apologize for his actions. In an interview, Facoly
said he had been surprised by the decision, saying he had always
considered Senegal a democratic country where freedom of expression
was valued.

Comment
-------
3. (SBU) Declaring Facoly persona non grata is a worrisome
development as it comes on the heels of the arrest (and subsequent
release) of numerous journalists who were critical of President
Wade, leading to questions about the direction Senegal is taking
especially as far as freedom of expression is concerned.
Furthermore, Facoly's Reggae music is very popular among youth
throughout West Africa. His is taking President Wade to task during
what are politically difficult times for the Wade government most
likely triggered a frightened, knee-jerk reaction from the Minister
of the Interior who has shown himself to be zealous in protecting
the President. Another interesting question is how this latest
incident squares with Senegal's commitment to the concept of freedom
of movement as enshrined by both the ECOWAS charter and Senegal's
pan-African constitution.
SMITH

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