|07DAKAR2122||2007-10-31 16:41:00||CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN||Embassy Dakar|
VZCZCXRO4512 PP RUEHPA DE RUEHDK #2122/01 3041641 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 311641Z OCT 07 FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9467 INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 002122
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.