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Cablegate: Senegal's New Economic and Social Council-Blatant

VZCZCXRO9407
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDK #1082/01 2360757
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240757Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2967
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1253

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001082

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL AND INR/AA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PINR ECON SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL'S NEW ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL-BLATANT
PATRONAGE

REF: DAKAR 696

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The recently-created Conseil Economique et Social
(CES) is an advisory body tasked with ensuring that the needs of
Senegal's people are heard by the government. However, the new CES
is no different to a pre-existing CES that President Abdoulaye Wade
campaigned against and dissolved in 2000. The 2009 version of the
CES is staffed with Wade's loyal supporters and, according to the
opposition, a blatant example of patronage. END SUMMARY

Composition and Purpose of the Council
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On Wednesday, July 29, President Wade presided over the
official installation of the new CES. The CES consists of 80
official members as well as 40 associate members drawn from
different socio-professional categories. The chair of the CES is
nominated by the President for a renewable five-year term. It is
currently headed by Ousmane Masseck Ndiaye a close political ally of
Wade who recently lost both his positions as Mayor of Saint Louis
and as Minister of State for Decentralization and Local Government.
The CES is designed to be an advisory body for the government; its
duties are to listen to the needs and grievances of different
population groups, "enlighten" the choices of the state, and promote
peaceful relations between different social groups. The CES will
allegedly focus its efforts on the labor classes and vulnerable
populations.

CES - Sounds Familiar
---------------------

3. (SBU) The CES is not a newfound idea as Wade dissolved a
pre-existing CES in 2000 after routinely arguing that it was
unnecessary and consumed up too much of the government's budget. It
had no mandate to control government policy, or to reject existing
laws; it could only advise. Wade stressed that, if elected he would
eliminate the CES. Following his swearing-in, he did just that but
kept CES President, Famara Ibrahima Sagna, one of his closest
friends, as his special adviser until March 2004.

4. (SBU) On June 19, 2003 the National Assembly approved the
creation of the Conseil de la Republique pour les Affaires
Economiques et Sociales (CRAES). President Wade appointed MBaye
Jacques Diop as the President of CRAES in June 2004. This
ostensibly "new" body staffed with 100 people fulfilled the same
role that the CES had before Wade's presidency. While the
opposition questioned this decision and remarked that the CRAES was
similar to the dissolved CES, Wade provided no reasoning or
justification for the creation of the new council.

5. (SBU) In 2007, the CRAES published an annual report that was
critical on the state of corruption and mismanagement in Senegal's
public sector. Wade did not like it, and said as much in both
public and private. It was around that point in time that the Mbaye
Jacques Diop, the then-President of the CRAES, fell out of favor
with Wade who subsequently told Diop to resign, but Diop refused.
As Wade had no legal authority to remove Diop, he circumvented
around this hurdle by sending to the National Assembly on August 7,
2008 a bill to disband CRAES.

Opportunities for Patronage
---------------------------

6. (SBU) Observers and opposition parties currently echo Wade's own
sentiments from the 2000 presidential campaign: the CES is not the
key to providing social safety and stability, they argue. Rather,
it is wasteful government spending and blatant patronage. In a vein
similar to the creation of the Senate, Wade personally selected the
members of the newly formed CES. Many of them are former ministers
and members of Wade's government, as well as his good political
clients and supporters. These members are paid substantially and
given numerous perks. Revealingly, not a single member of the CES
participated in the 2008 "Assise National". (NOTE: The "Assise
National" was a widely-attended gathering called by civil society to
call attention and propose remedies to a number of Senegal's
problems. The gathering was critical of, and boycotted by, Wade's
party. END NOTE)

Divide and Conquer
------------------

7. (SBU) Institutions such as the CRAES and the CES have been used
by Wade to undermine potential future opponents. Rather than fight
these people, he co-opts them when possible, removing an enemy and
further weakening any opposition. A prime example of this practice
at work concerns Mbaye Fall Leye, the President of CUSEMS, a popular
teachers' union. Leye was co-opted into the newly-formed CES.

DAKAR 00001082 002 OF 002


Subsequently, the coalition of unions to which CUSEMS belonged
kicked him out, and CUSEMS itself was split into two, divided
between those who support Leye and those who oppose him. By
bringing Leye into the CES, Wade not only removed a potential
opponent but also severely weakened CUSEMS.

COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) Underneath the lofty rhetoric, the CES is nothing but a
patronage tool used by Wade to reward those loyal to him and to
"recycle" unpopular supporters. Wade's dissolution of the CRAES is
a perfect example of this blatant patronage at work; the moment that
it did not serve his interests, he disbanded it. Now that the
political class has grown even larger and some of his confidants
were soundly defeated in the March 22 local elections, Wade revived
the CES/CRAES in order to placate his cronies. In the end, however,
what is most worrisome about this episode is the President's
continued manipulation of the Senegalese constitution to suit his
needs. END COMMENT.

BERNICAT

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