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Cablegate: Senegal: The Return of Political Violence

VZCZCXRO4154
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0076 0211513
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211513Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3645
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 000076

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM ECON SG
SUBJECT: Senegal: The Return of Political Violence

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On January 17, two arsonists, allegedly belonging
to the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) set ablaze the stand
where Ousmane Tanor Dieng, the leader of the Socialist Party (PS)
was sitting during a political rally in Thies. Dieng and key
leaders of the PS, including the Mayor of Dakar, were in Thies to
launch the PS's national "one Month One Region" campaign aimed at
galvanizing the party's grassroots. The fire was put out by the
PS's youth; however, the tarp covering the stand was burnt down.
Luckily, the wooden bleachers did not collapse and no stampede took
place. Dieng called it an assassination attempt by the PDS, adding
that his party's response will be, "an eye for an eye". End
Summary.

The ruling PDS suspected
------------------------
2. (SBU) The PDS is generally dubbed as the "party of violence" as
they have been known to use violence as a means to intimidate
opponents. A member of the Directorate of the Socialist Party told
Embassy that they were informed prior to the meeting that the PDS
would seek to sabotage the event. A journalist named Leopold Tamba,
who is the correspondent of Walf FM and Walf Tv in Thies, confirmed
to the Embassy that Mouhamadou Massaly, a local PDS youth leader
("Jeunesse Wadiste") based in Thies called him to say he was the
instigator of the arson. Tamba added that Massaly had called him
twice to make sure that he reported that he had been the one who had
derailed the PS's meeting; he even offered to pay him 300,000 CFA
(600 USD)if he made the announcement. Massaly who is also the
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dakarnave (a ship repair
company in Dakar) is probably seeking a fast political promotion by
showing off his zeal. Tamba says that during Massaly's last call he
had given his cell phone to Tanor Dieng who was able to hear Massaly
boast that he was behind the arson. This is the second attack in
which the PDS have targeted an opposition leader. On January 1,
Macky Sall and his associates were stoned in the Pikine suburb of
Dakar where his party had a major political rally.

Impunity for criminals
----------------------
3. (SBU) The Socialist Party has indicated that it will take the
case to court. Macky Sall did the same a week ago. However,
historically arrests in such cases are rarely made as the criminals
enjoy protection from the ruling party. In this case, the regional
leader of the PS in Thies told Embassy that he twice went to the
police to report the event but did not feel he was welcome. He said
that only thirty six hours after the event did the police finally
summon Massaly and Leopold Tamba for an interrogation. Tamba
confirmed to Embassy that he had told the police that Massaly had
called him twice and they could use the records of the phone company
to check. For his part Massaly, after being interrogated for nine
hours, made a statement to the press where he denied any involvement
in the arson and of calling Tamba. He went on to claim that he was
being set up.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The PDS realizes that the 2012 elections will be
fiercely contested and that it could lose power. As a result, it is
implementing a multi-pronged strategy against the opposition that
includes distributing money and positions to destabilize opposition
parties and enacting more institutional and legal reforms to
strengthen the PDS' position. However, the most worrying element of
this latest offensive seems to be the use of violence to intimidate
opponents and prevent them from making a public show of their
political strength. On December 24, President Wade changed both the
Minister of Justice Moustapha Sourang, who was on the job for only
two and a half months, and his deputy. A senior official of the
Ministry of Justice told Embassy that the changes were made for
political reasons to ensure that the Ministry would be more willing
to turn a blind eye to the transgressions of certain PDS elements.
END COMMENT.

BERNICAT

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