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Cablegate: Senegal: President Wade's Final Assault Against National

VZCZCXRO1703
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1196 2911332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171332Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1284
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001196

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM SG
SUBJECT: Senegal: President Wade's Final Assault Against National
Assembly Chair

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 13, the Senegalese Congress (National
Assembly and Senate in joint session) held an emergency meeting to
amend the Constitution to allow for the removal of the President of
the National Assembly, Macky Sall, from his post. Despite having
applied tremendous political pressure for the past year, President
Abdoulaye Wade has failed to force Sall to resign and could not
force his removal from office given his constitutionally determined
five-year term of office.
By resorting to a modifying the Constitution to resolve a political
fight within the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), Wade has
again demonstrated the extent to which he dominates the country's
political scene. While in theory Senegal's government is based on a
clear separation of powers, in practice the overwhelming majority of
the ruling PDS in parliament and Wade's virtually unchallenged power
over the PDS has resulted in virtually unfettered executive power.
END SUMMARY

Emergency Process Used to Settle a Political Score
--------------------------------------------- -----
2. (SBU) For almost a year, President Wade has been pressuring Sall
to resign his position as President of the National Assembly. Sall
angered Wade last year by daring to attempt to convoke Wade's son
Karim, the head of ANOCI, the independent state agency responsible
for organizing the summit of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, which took place in March. ANOCI had been criticized in
the press for its opaque accounting practices and there were (and
continue to be) many allegations that Karim was guilty of
malfeasance and embezzlement of government funds. Sall attempted to
convoke Karim to testify about his agency's work. This was widely
viewed as an attempt to embarrass Karim and eliminate him as a
potential presidential successor thus opening the way for Sall
himself. President Wade's reaction was swift and devastating.
Although Sall had served as his prime minister, managed his campaign
for reelection, and been placed in the role of number two of the PDS
and president of the National Assembly by Wade, the President moved
immediately to strip Sall of his party position and to pressure him
to resign his leadership position in the National Assembly as
punishment.

3. (SBU) While Sall had received a temporary reprieve after the
intervention of the caliph-general of the Mourides Muslim
brotherhood in January, Wade returned to the matter of punishing
Sall after returning from his summer vacation in September. In
spite of the dire economic and budgetary situation in which the
country find's itself, the parliament's first order of business upon
returning from summer recess was the removal of Sall. In a marathon
session lasting four days the National Assembly and the Senate
adopted an amendment to Article 62 of the Constitution to shorten
the term of the President of the National Assembly. In the National
Assembly, which has 150 members, the amendment was passed by 95
votes for, 18 against, two abstentions and 35 no-shows. In the
Senate, which has 100 members, 99 voted for the amendment and 1 was
against. Nine opposition parties voted against the amendment saying
that the government's priority should be to address the urgent
issues facing the country, such as the current energy crisis, and
not tinkering with the Constitution to settle political scores
within the PDS.

What has changed?
-----------------

4. (SBU) Article 62 of the Constitution stated that both the
President of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate
were elected to those positions for the duration of the legislature,
i.e. five years. The article has now been amended to state that the
president of each body and the members of the Bureaus are elected
for one year, renewable. The National Assembly, unlike the Senate,
also introduced a new provision that makes it possible for a group
of at least 38 members of the National Assembly to propose a
resolution at any time to fire a member of the "Bureau" including
the Chair of the Assembly. That resolution will pass if supported
by a simple majority of the Assembly.

COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) One the senior vice-presidents of the Assembly told
Embassy that Wade wants a yes man to head the Assembly. The removal
of Sall seems to be part of Wade's strategy to eliminate young
ambitious leaders within the PDS who may pose a threat to Wade's
plan to choose his own successor, ostensibly his son. Local
elections slated for March 2008, if held, will give us a clearer
indication of whether or not Wade remains strong enough to
neutralize these kinds of opponents within his party's rank and
shape the political landscape for his son to succeed him.
SMITH

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