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Cablegate: Senegal: Chair of National Electoral Committee Resigns

VZCZCXRO6213
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1470 3370947
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030947Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3424
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001470

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: Chair of National Electoral Committee Resigns

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 26, Judge Moustapha Toure, the
Chairman of Senegal's National Autonomous Electoral Committee (CENA)
resigned under pressure from President Abdoulaye Wade. Knowing that
he could not legally fire him, the President asked Toure in a
November 5 meeting to resign. When Toure responded negatively on
November 23, Wade's entourage exerted pressure on his wife who is an
official in the President's party thus forcing Toure's hand. End
Summary.

Contempt of Court
-----------------

2. (SBU) According to the 2005 act that created the CENA, the
President of the Republic appoints the Chairperson of the CENA and
its other members after consulting academics, human rights
activists, lawyers and other civil society groupings. President
Wade appointed Moustapha Toure, a retired judge, as the first
Chairman of CENA. The appointment created a stir amongst the
opposition beacuse Toure's wife is a active member of President
Wade's ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) serving on the
Social and Economic Council. Article 4 of the Act creating the CENA
not only says that its members must be neutral and impartial but it
also clearly states that they should not receive instructions or
orders from any public or private authority.

What went wrong?
----------------

3. (SBU) Senior PDS leaders told Embassy that Toure was forced out
because he did not stop electoral litigation that took place in the
villages of NDindy and Ndoulo prior to the March 2009 local
elections. It was in these two areas that the PDS missed the
deadline for presenting their slate of candidates. The Ministry of
Interior nonetheless went ahead and approved the late registered PDS
candidates in violation of the law. In response, the CENA took the
issue up to the Supreme Court which ruled that the CENA was within
its authority to bar the PDS candidates from participating in the
election. However, the then Minister of the Interior Cheikh Tidiane
Sy ignored both the CENA and the Supreme Court rulings and permitted
the PDS (his party) to run a slate of candidates. In the end the
PDS was crushed by the opposition, losing 9 out of 10 districts.
According to sources in CENA, Toure was actually reluctant to file a
complaint but did so after the other members of CENA threatened to
resign collectively if he did not. Aminata Sow Fall, the CENA
member in charge of the Ndindy and NDoulo area and a well-known
writer, was so shocked by the cavalier attitude of the government
that she did tender her resignation, a fact that Toure kept secret
to avoid further embarrassment for Wade and his party.

Intense Pressure
----------------

4. (SBU) According to people close to him, Toure did not want to
resign because as head of CENA he oversaw a budget of USD 2.8
million with little outside oversight. In addition to pressure from
his wife, a PDS leader close to Toure's family told Embassy that
Toure's children also pressured their father to resign telling him
that they feared for his life, reminding him of Judge Seye, the Vice
President of the Constitutional Court, who was assassinated in 1993.
In this cold case Wade was the main suspect and he spent six month
in pretrial detention before the case was dropped.

COMMENT
--------

5. (SBU) The President's continued manipulation of the electoral
system, whether it be a plan to abolish the second round of votes in
the Presidential election or refusing to revamp the electoral rolls,
remains a cause of concern for Senegalese democracy. The usually
vociferous opposition has remained fairly mute as they find
themselves in the catch 22 of decrying Wade's blatant heavy
handedness while at the same time claiming that Toure was always too
timid and in Wade's pocket. The appointment of the next Chair of
the CENA now becomes all that more crucial with Presidential
elections slated for 2012. Moreover, the President will be
appointing four other commission members because of the resignation
of former commissioner Fall and the creation of three new region.
If Wade appoints commission members who are too obviously close to
him, it will cast a further shadow of doubt over the institution's
moral authority and this might open the way for areturn to post
electoral instability that Senega experienced in the late 80s and
90s. End Commen.
Bernicat

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