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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07DAKAR1027 2007-05-10 18:22:00 SECRET Embassy Dakar
Cable title:  

OPPOSITION BOYCOTT THREATENS LEGITIMACY OF

Tags:   PGOV PINS SOCI PHUM PINR KDEM KISL SG 
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VZCZCXRO1598
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1027/01 1301822
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 101822Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8276
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001027 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL/AE AND INR/AA
PARIS FOR POL - D'ELIA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2017
TAGS: PGOV PINS SOCI PHUM PINR KDEM KISL SG
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION BOYCOTT THREATENS LEGITIMACY OF
SENEGALESE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

REF: 06 DAKAR 2737

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER OSMAN N. TAT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (
D).

SUMMARY
-------


1. (C) Alleging gerrymandering, Senegal,s leading
opposition parties have formed an alliance to boycott the
June 3 parliamentary election. President Wade, whom the
opposition also accuses of manipulating electoral rolls,
continues to dismiss calls to postpone for a third time. The
press is rife with speculation as to what this boycott will
do to Senegal,s democracy, as this is the first time that a
group has resorted to a technique that could translate into
the absence of any meaningful parliamentary opposition. This
boycott may herald a more radical chapter in Senegalese
politics. END SUMMARY.

HOW WILL THE ELECTION WORK?


--------------------------




2. (C) Senegal,s legislative election system is based on
the parallel voting system. In this system the 150 seats in
the National Assembly are divided into those that will be
chosen on the basis of a party bloc vote, 60, and those that
will come out in mostly multi-member electoral districts, 90.
In the first tally each vote goes towards a national total
with electors voting for a party list. The number of members
of parliament a party eventually gets depends on the
percentage of votes that a party wins of the national total.
Thus, if the total number of votes cast is one million and
Wade,s party wins 50 percent, his party will be awarded 30
of the 60 seats up for grabs. Then in order to determine the
remaining 90 seats, the votes are counted in a voter,s
department. Thus if 500,000 people voted in the department
of Dakar, which has say 10 seats allocated to it, and Wade,s
party wins 50 percent of that vote, his party will have then
won 5 seats. (NOTE: These numbers are hypothetical. END
NOTE.)

WHO IS THE OPPOSITION? WHAT DO THEY WANT?


--------------------------




3. (C) The principal opposition parties, who call themselves
&Siggil Senegal8 (restoring dignity to Senegal), number 12
parties and include second place presidential contender
Idrissa Seck,s Rewmi Party, the Socialist Party, Abdoulaye
Bathily,s Democratic League and Moustapha Niasse,s Alliance
Force for Progress. In total these parties garnered 36.62
percent of the vote in the February 25 presidential election.
In contrast, the 14 parties, not including the Democratic
Party of Senegal (PDS), who will contest the June 3 election
and who also contested the presidential election accounted
for 6.14 percent of that vote with four supporting the PDS.
Siggil Senegal leaders, who are currently touring Senegal to
take their case to the people, are demanding the dismissal of
Interior Minister Osman Ngom and the postponement of the
election so as to redraw the electoral boundaries to more
accurately reflect Senegal,s demographic apportionment.

OPPOSITION ACCUSES WADE OF MANIPULATION


--------------------------




4. (C) Siggil Senegal is boycotting the election because the
parties assert Wade gerrymandered the electoral rolls and
departmental boundaries to distinctly favor his PDS. In
spite of Council of State rulings )- one siding with them
and one siding against them )- the parties argue that decree
increasing the number of seats in certain departments, where
the PDS is strong, are fraudulent as there has not been a
concomitant increase in population. They further allege that
those departments where the PDS is weak have seen a drop in
the number of seats allocated despite having larger
populations. In the last elections the seats were allocated
proportionally. Wade has decreed that seat allocation be
made based on the importance of a department. Thus, the
departments of Zinguichor, Tambacounda and Bignona have 2
seats each even though their population is larger than the
departments of Guediawaye (3), Tivaouane (3), Mbour (4),
Thies (4) and Diourbel (3).

A WEAK JUDICIARY


--------------------------




5. (C) The crisis is compounded by a weak judiciary. While
the Constitutional Court has consistently refused to rule on
the validity of the amendments introduced by Wade, the
Council of State has bent backwards to rule in favor of the
regime even going as far as contradicting its own December
2006 decision when it ruled that Wade,s reapportionment was
unconstitutional. The opposition alleges collusion between
the Council of State and President Wade as the elections are

DAKAR 00001027 002 OF 002


going ahead based on a very slightly modified reapportionment
decree that they argue is still unconstitutional.

IS A POSTPONEMENT POSSIBLE?


--------------------------




6. (S) Wade has already postponed the legislative elections
twice and a third time might be possible if domestic and
international pressure mounts. Opinions in Senegal,s
leading newspapers are divided with some opining that a lack
of a credible opposition will seriously damage Senegal,s
democratic system and further weaken an already ailing
parliament. Others argue that the opposition has committed
political suicide as the parties will become irrelevant for
the next five years. The European Union (EU) has already
demarched the Government to postpone the election, arguing
that the opposition boycott is not good for Senegal. French
Ambassador Andre Parant reportedly told EU colleagues that
the Government postponed for poor reasons twice; so it could
postpone for a good reason a third time. In a conversation
with Poloffs, the extremely influential spokesman of the
Tidjane Brotherhood, Abdoul Aziz Sy al Ibn (Junior), told us
that he would do what he could to intervene with President
Wade to persuade him of his view that an election without an
opposition was detrimental to the peace and fraternity of
Senegal.



7. (C) Presidential spokesman El Hadj Amadou Sall denied
that the President would see the opposition after his trip to
Brazil and underlined that elections would go ahead as
scheduled. Meanwhile, the opposition says that the meeting
has already been set. One key opposition figure told PolOff,
&We are certain to lose if we go to legislative elections.8
Opposition figures have also asserted that they would have
to resort to the streets using students and unions to
destabilize the regime.

COMMENT


--------------------------




8. (C) For now, the postponement debate is being waged in
the media. If the election does go ahead, it is certain that
the PDS will win a landslide victory. What is also certain
is that Senegal will have moved back to a de facto one-party.
END COMMENT.



9. (U) Visit Embassy Dakar,s SIPRNET website at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/af/dakar.
JACOBS