Search

 

Cablegate: Conflicting Messages About Wade's Monument

VZCZCXRO6177
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDK #1069/01 2311310
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191310Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2953
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1251
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0408

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001069

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W
PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM XY PU
SUBJECT: CONFLICTING MESSAGES ABOUT WADE'S MONUMENT

REF: 08 DAKAR 696

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Details have continued to emerge regarding
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's project for a "Monument of the African Renaissance." To pay off the North Korean firm that is
constructing the monument, a valuable tract of land is said to have
been given to Mbackeou Faye, one of Wade's prominent supporters,
with the instructions that Faye should pay the cost of construction
(believed to be $25-35 million) to the North Koreans with proceeds
from selling the newly-acquired land. After paying off the North
Koreans, Faye will end up with a hefty profit from the land deal.
In response to an inquiry from the European Union (EU), Prime
Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye defended the land deal without
really revealing any details. However, his additional assertion
that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had supervised the process
conflicts with existing information. Additionally, Wade's recent
decision to claim 35 percent of the monument's proceeds as an
intellectual property right conflicts with Ndiaye's assertion that
the land deal was done transparently and within GOS regulations.
END SUMMARY.


BACKGROUND ON THE MONUMENT
--------------------------

2. (SBU) The execution of President Wade's idea for a "Monument of
the African Renaissance" in Dakar is currently in the process of
being realized. A 100-plus North Korean crew has been constructing
the titanic, grandiose edifice of a style reminiscent of the
Stalinesque behemoths of the halcyon days of the Soviet Union. As
described by a GOS brochure, the structure features an "African man
emerging from a volcano, facing the West, with his wife, and he is
holding his child up as if to show him to the world." Reportedly,
Wade sees the monument as a cultural legacy for himself and a
tangible symbol mirroring his belief that Africa must look to the
future rather than be beholden to its past.


THE MONUMENT(al) LAND DEAL
----------------------

3. (SBU) Wade appropriated a public piece of land occupying the
western-most promontory of the Senegalese coast, just northwest of
downtown Dakar to be used for the site of his proposed monument. He hired a North Korean firm to construct the monument at a cost of CFA 12-16 billion (approximately USD $25-35 million), according to Wade himself. To cover the costs of construction, rather than pay for
the structure from the GOS's limited budget, a valuable tract of
land near Dakar's airport was appropriated. Rather than sell the
land itself, it is believed the North Koreans and/or GOS engaged the
services of Mbackeou Faye, a prominent businessman and one of Wade's close friends and loyal supporters, to commercialize the real
estate. (COMMENT: Although the GOS asserts that the North Koreans
chose Faye to develop and sell the property, it is all but certain
that Wade himself chose Faye and merely told the North Koreans whom to hire. END COMMENT)

4. (SBU) Faye has sold 12 hectares of land thus far, to Ipres, a
retirement and pension institution for private sector and
nongovernment employees-civil servants, for USD $54 million. (NOTE: pres is co-managed by the private sector and the GOS, with Wade nominating the company's director and the company's private board confirming the nomination. END NOTE.) With the remaining land, Faye is believed to be planning to build 270 luxurious residences, each of which will cost USD $300,000. This is expected to bring him an additional USD $81 million. After paying the North Korean firm, Faye is expected to end up with a handsome profit from the deal. (COMMENT: Although Ipres's board is technically independent, its members are vulnerable to political pressure from the Presidency. Wade can easily pull some strings at the company to push deals through. It is very probable that Wade had some say in Ipres's land purchase. END COMMENT.)


THE GOVERNMENT BEGINS TO CONTRADICT ITSELF
------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) On June 30, 2009 the EU sent a letter to the GOS
questioning the land deal. In the letter, the EU complained that
the GOS gave up a valuable revenue-generating opportunity while
continuing to ask for budget support from donors.

6. (SBU) On July 9, Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye responded with a letter defending the land deal, essentially arguing that the GOS had done nothing wrong, did not "sell" the land, and did not receive any money. The letter also argues that the North Koreans, not the GOS, chose Faye to develop the land. Furthermore,

DAKAR 00001069 002 OF 002


the letter asserts that the MOF was involved in all aspects of the land
deal. This is in direct contradiction to what Abdoulaye Diop, the
Minister of Finance, asserted during the presentation of the revised
2009 budget at the National Assembly. Essentially, the Minister
stated that the MOF was not involved in the monument land deal.
(NOTE: According to XXXXXXXXXXXX the President handled the land deal himself without consulting the ministry, and that the Presidency, not the MOF, controls all public land in the airport and upscale Almadies neighborhoods. END NOTE.)

FURTHER CONTRADICTIONS
----------------------
7. (SBU) President Wade recently claimed that since the monument was his own personal idea he has a right to share in the proceeds,
claiming intellectual property rights over the statue. Wade has
subsequently created a foundation and claimed that 35 percent of the
monument's proceeds will go as royalties to the foundation.
Additionally, Wade has named his son, Karim Wade, as the president of the foundation's board of directors. The money that goes to the foundation will ostensibly be used to fund another of Wade's pet projects, the "Cases de Tout Petits". These "cases" are early
childhood education centers, of which over 100 have been built
throughout the country since 2000. Although these "cases" are a
good idea in theory, early childhood education is a luxury in a
country where even universal primary education is unattainable.
Most of the existing centers sit as empty shells, either locked or
diverted to multiple other uses.

MORE TO COME?
-------------
8. (SBU) In his letter, Ndiaye mentioned that a second land deal is
likely in the works. He claimed that this deal will cover the costs of landscaping the monument grounds, the construction of a
proposed museum and conference center inside the edifice, and the
construction of parking lots and an amusement park.

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) The monument, the outer shell of which is missing only the
man's head, is now a prominent feature of greater Dakar's skyline
clearly visible from most of the outer rim of the city. As it sits
close enough to the flight path of planes landing at Dakar's
international airport, it is ensured of becoming a topic of
conversation for foreign visitors and those passing through. The
Senegalese man and woman on the street are also talking, most
expressing the simple plaint that, if given the choice, they would
have preferred electricity and running water. END COMMENT.

BERNICAT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>