Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D,AFFAIRES JAY SMITH FOR REASONS 1. 4 (B) AND (D)
1. (C) The Senegalese Police's Criminal Investigations Department (DCI) arrested Moussa Gueye, a journalist at the small Rufisque-based paper, "L'Exclusif" after they published an article entitled "The President,s Night Escapades." The police made the arrest in an effort to identify who in the Presidential Palace had provided information to the paper but Gueye refused to reveal his sources despite being questioned for four days. The paper,s owner, Moussa Doucar, has also been arrested and both await trial for causing "offense to the Head of State" and "compromising state security." While some believe that this case underlines Wade's determination to set limits to journalists' feedoms and deprive his detractors of access to the media, other, many journalists included, elieve that the entire case is political in nature and not an issue of media freedom. End Summary
2. (SBU) On October 8, Gueye was entrapped by DIC officer who had anonymously called him to offer him an advertising deal. Instead of making a deal, he found himself under arrest. His computer was seized and the tires of the cars parked at the paper were punctured. Both Gueye and Doucar are charged with "insulting the Head of State", "publishing false news", and "disturbing public order." Under article 80, 254, and 255 of the Criminal Code, they may face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to three thousand dollars.
Presidential Night Escapades?
3. (C) According to several Embassy sources, these night escapades were in fact visits by Wade and his Chief of Protocol, Pape Samba, Mboup, to Ms. Aminita Tall, former Cabinet Minister and the leading female figure in his party. However, the actual article in question does not contain specific information and seems to have been intended more to arouse speculation that inform.
Who Tipped Off the Journalists?
4. (C) President Wade's entourage believes that Mbaye Jacques Diop, the President of the Council of the Republic for Economic and Social Affairs (CRAES), manipulated the paper to produce this article in retaliation for his recent demotion. Diop is a senior politician from Rufisque where the paper is published. Diop had been asked by Wade to resign from CRAES as it is rumored that Wade wants to nominate Tall to chair the body and since Wade cannot legally fire Diop he had a bill drafted to dissolve CRAES to get rid of him. The bill, now heading to parliament, will recreate the same council so that Tall can be appointed at its head.
Eliminating Checks and Balances
5. (C) Wade has full control over the legislative and judicial branches of Senegal. So far, the media remains the only pole of resistance and dissent. In a recent press conference, Wade told journalists that he had the means to "drown their voices" by creating 20 or 30 new pro-government dailies. Yet, a couple of weeks later he invited media representatives from the country's eleven regions to his office and offered each a laptop and check of 6 million CFA (USD 12,000) to support regional media operations. But, when it comes to stories relating to the succession, allegations of rampant corruption, accountability in business transactions within his office or his son, Wade always comes down hard against the media and he will not hesitate to use the police or courts to silence journalists. In the case of Moussa Gueye, local officials from Rufisque have appealed to Wade for clemency, while local media have so far only expressed timid reactions.
6. (C) Since reelection in February, Wade has initiated a series of institutional changes to reinforce his personal authority. This seems to be part of his strategy to orchestrate his own succession while appearing to preserve democratic competition. So far, thanks to his charisma and continued support from the Mouride brotherhood, he has managed to impose his will and destabilize opponents in political parties and the labor unions. These arrests are
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part and parcel of this show of authority. The media has not cried foul because the arrests are seen as a political problem. That is, Wade is perceived to be silencing his political rivals rather than the media. It remains to be seen whether he will succeed in overcoming the sole force that continues to resist his political domination-the media. SMITH