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Cablegate: Senegal: The Misery of Local Democracy

VZCZCXRO3810
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1279 3101626
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051626Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1384
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001279

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: The Misery of Local Democracy

SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) On October 29, President Abdoulaye Wade fired by decree
Mbaye Ndiaye, the Mayor of the Parcelles Assainies suburb of Dakar
for mismanagement. Ndiaye who is one of the old guards in the
ruling party and a Deputy at the National Assembly has been punished
for his loyalty to Macky Sall, the current Chair of the Assembly who
has fallen into disfavor with Wade. This is another confirmation of
the continuing erosion of Senegalese democracy and underlines the
blurred lines between where the party ends and the state begins.
END SUMMARY

No tolerance for dissent
------------------------
2. (SBU) Ndiaye showed and independent streak by voting against
the amending of the Constitution just to remove the Chair of the
National Assembly. He did not hesitate to criticize his own party
for interfering with separation of powers. Ndiaye is a senior
ruling party leader who has occupied several strategic positions
such as Special Advisor to Wade in charge of the Casamance conflict;
Financial Officer of the PDS; Deputy at the National Assembly and
Chair of the Defense and Security Committee of the Assembly in 2001
and Mayor of Parcelles in 2002.

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The trampling of local democracy
--------------------------------
3. (SBU) Since his election in 2000, Wade has shown little respect
for local democracy. In 2001, he had the Assembly pass a law to
dissolve all local governments because they were run by the
Socialist Party. In 2002, he organized new elections with the
result that members of his party now control most local governments.
The mandate of these officials expired in 2006 but Wade twice, in
2006 and then in 2007, found a pretext to extend their terms to
avoid holding elections. In the mean time, he has systematically
fired, by decree, local officials belonging to opposition parties,
(such as his former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck) or members of his
party who disagreed with his policies. The Chairman of the Regional
Council of Diourbel was first in 2006 and Ndiaye is now the second.

COMMENT
-------
4. (SBU) Wade does not hesitate to violate legal procedures when
firing local officials. Local elections are due on March 22, 2009
and preparations are underway at the Ministry of Interior, but
nobody can be sure that they will be held. If the context is
unfavorable, it is likely that the President will find a way to
postpone them again. The next local elections will be crucial for
Wade as he will place leaders who will support and work for the
successor that he will designate. The recent creation of three new
regions, to gerrymander the areas where the opposition could win a
significant number of seats, is a another source of concern. No
effort is currently being taken in regard to issuing new voting
cards to the one million voters who need to change their cards as a
result of the reshaping of administrative districts.
Bernicat

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