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Cablegate: Senegal's Ruling Party Steals Local Election in Mbane

VZCZCXRO2886
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0993/01 2150740
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030740Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2871
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 000993

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM ECON SG
SUBJECT: Senegal's ruling party steals local election in Mbane

SUMMARY
----------
1. (SBU) The Court of Appeals in Dakar recently overturned the
results of local elections in Mbane located in Northeast Senegal. A
leading opposition leader Aliou Diack has been officially replaced
by a member of the ruling party following the court's decision.
Although the court has justified its verdict citing voter
intimidation, opposition leaders believe it is a ploy to cover-up
the implication of ruling party members in illicit land deals. The
situation in Mbane remains tense as local opinion remains highly
opposed to the court's decision. The opposition has taken the step
of challenging these results in the Supreme Court. End Summary.

Voter Intimidation or Fabrication
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) After only three months in power, Bennoo opposition leader
Aliou Diack has been officially replaced by a member of the ruling
SOPI party coalition, Mamadou Cire Diallo. The Court of Appeals
based in Dakar reached this decision based on alleged voter
intimidation in five rural villages. The cancellation of results
has allowed the ruling party to claim victory in the highly coveted
constituency. No polling station irregularities were reported
during the March 22 local elections from opposition or ruling party
representatives. When results were officially declared however, the
defeated ruling party candidate for Mbane took the case to court
saying, "It has been reported to us that a lack of security in the
polling stations in Ndombo resulted in storming of a polling station
and many voters being deprived access to their voting precincts."

The Plot Thickens
-----------------

3. (SBU) The ruling parties (SOPI) application to the court
requested for new elections to be held within those five villages.
The court however, ultimately provided them with much more then they
had demanded by overturning 1,023 opposition votes (Bennoo) against
197 votes for the ruling coalition (SOPI). This court decision also
went against a memorandum produced by the Ministry of Interior
(organizer of elections in Senegal) who stated that "The alleged
insecurity that might have prevented voters to exercise their rights
is not proven. And considering that voting is not mandatory in
Senegal, no candidate can deem that they have sustained a prejudice
resulting from this situation."

Secret Land Deal
----------------

4. (SBU) The court decision seems to have been motivated by the
desire of senior GOS official's interested in having a local
government which protects their own interest. The ousted opposition
official Aliou Diack had begun the process of reviewing all land
allocation deals within the district. Since coming to power in
2000, the ruling coalition is alleged to have lavishly doled out
large plots of land to senior leaders of the ruling party, including
senior civil servants in the military and legal system.

The Alleged Cover-up
--------------------

5. (SBU) During one of its first meetings the opposition council
decided to cancel the allocation of 20,000 hectares of land to a
obscure bio-fuel company named "Plantation Vert" (Green
plantation). Allegations have surfaced that President Wade himself
is the owner of the company. Mbane's ruling party leaders have also
allegedly allocated more land than is available in the community.
Between 2000 and this year, over 202,000 hectares had been allocated
in Mbane which is 42,000 more then the total within the district.

All the President's Men
-----------------------

6. (SBU) The list of alleged beneficiaries includes the Prime
Minister, Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, Zacharia Diaw (President Wade's
Cabinet Director), President of the Senate Papa Diop and several
other prominent GOS officials; including Abdoulaye Fall, head of the
National Gendarmerie. The head of the departmental court of
Dganana, Judge Madicke Diop who has played a key role as chair of
the local electoral committee, is also one of the beneficiaries.
Leading opposition parties have continued to challenge the decision
and have appealed to the Supreme Court.

COMMENT
--------

7. (SBU) The situation in Mbane remains rather tense as the
opposition fights to have the court decision overturned. The
ruling SOPI coalition appears to have succeeded in rigging the
election in its favor. Until the appeal goes through and a final

DAKAR 00000993 002 OF 002


court decision is made the situation will continue to be volatile.
END COMMENT.
SMITH

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