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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09DAKAR237
2009-02-25 11:55:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Dakar
Cable title:  

Senegal: GOS adopts Tough Stand Against Street

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINS  PHUM  KDEM  ECON  SG 
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VZCZCXRO1873
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0237/01 0561155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251155Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1926
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 000237 

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 PHUM KDEM ECON SG
SUBJECT: Senegal: GOS adopts Tough Stand Against Street
Demonstrators.



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On February 21, Senegalese police arrested seven
people, including one attorney, during an unauthorized demonstration
in Dakar. The demonstrators were protesting against the demolition
of a local soccer stadium that is now earmarked for a major business
project allegedly orchestrated by the Mayor of Dakar, Pape Diop, in
partnership with businessmen from China. End Summary.

Business not soccer


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




2. (SBU) In 2004, the Mayor of Dakar decided to give to the State
the Assane Diouf Stadium, a large dirt pitch used by citizens living
in the Plateau (where the Embassy is located), Medina, and Geuele
Tapee districts, for a "public utility project." In return the
citizens of the area were to receive an alternate location for their
soccer pitch. In reality, this deal never materialized as promised
and instead, in 2008 when the whole country was focused on the
annual pilgrimage to Touba, bulldozers demolished the stadium in
order to make way for the "Kawsara" project, a 16 billion CFA (32
million dollars) Chinese-built commercial center. Faced with
resistance from young activists from the area, the GOS shelved the
project for a year, but now seem determined to begin construction -
if necessary, by force.

Seven arrests, including one attorney


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




3. (SBU) On February 21, youth from the Rebeuss neighborhood where
the stadium is located called for a demonstration to protest against
the loss of their stadium. As usual, the Prefect of Dakar forbade
the demonstration on the grounds that it would "be a threat to
public order." And, as usual, the organizers ignored this
prohibition, which led the police to use force to disperse the
demonstrators. Three young people from the neighborhood and four
opposition leaders who were holding a political rally in the area
were arrested.

GOS accuses opposition


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




4. (SBU) In a press release, the GOS accused the coalition of
opposition parties of purposely ignoring the local government edict
and using the issue as a publicity stunt. Two opposition leaders,
Khalifa Sall, who is the leader of the opposition list for the
position of Mayor of Dakar, and Ali Haidar, the chairman of the
Ecological Party, took part in the demonstration sustaining minor
injuries from rubber bullets. Sall went to the police to ask to be
arrested in solidarity with two members of his campaign team, but
the police turned him away. He told Poloff, "They did not want to
give my campaign any publicity by throwing me in jail."

Freed on bail


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





5. (SBU) After two nights in police custody, the three youth from
Rebeuss were charged with "threatening public order" and released on
bail. The other four, who were arrested in a car as they were
leaving a political rally that was concomitantly taking place in the
area, were also released on bail. The car was being driven by
attorney Birame Sassoum Sy, who is an opposition candidate and
leader of the list of candidates for the local government of Medina
and the Regional Council of Dakar. He, Thioye Ba, and Birane Kane,
members of the Socialist Party, as well as Ndiaye Ba of the
Socialist Front, a small party represented at the National Assembly,
were all charged with "insulting law enforcement officers." The
fourth occupant of the vehicle, Moussa Taye, managed to escape
arrest by running away. Taye is one of the coordinators of the
campaign for the opposition in Dakar. He joked with Embassy staff
that "a coordinator should not let himself be caught! That would
defeat the object of the exercise."

Abuse and Corruption


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




6. (SBU) These arrests are a continuation of a trend whereby the
government is bent on limiting any opposition demonstrations, even
though this right is enshrined in the constitution. While in police
custody the rights of the detained were violated. One of them,
Cheikh Ahmed Tijane Radji, a hip hop singer, had his dreadlocks cut
off. Thioye Ba and Birane Kane told Embassy staff that they were
held, twenty people to a small cell, in appallingly unhygienic
conditions. When they asked for a broom to clean the cell they were
told by officers that the broom cupboard was locked. Kane said he
was eye-witness to blatant corruption in the main police station of
Dakar, as those who could pay 20,000 CFA (USD 40) were allowed to go
out to stretch their legs and make extended calls. Attorney Biram
Sassoum Sy told Embassy that the circumstances of their arrest were
very violent as police first insulted and then took them by force
from his car. A lawyer involved in the case told Embassy that, even
after receiving bail, all seven men were purposely handcuffed to go
to an adjacent office to conclude the administrative formalities for
their release.


DAKAR 00000237 002 OF 002


Comment


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




7. (SBU) A prominent opposition leader told Embassy that the only
language that Wade and his party really understand is violence and
he and his colleagues will not miss any opportunity to take their
political battle to the streets. However, so far, and as underlined
by the meager turnout at the Rebeuss demonstration, it is not clear
that the people are yet ready to follow them down this road.
Bernicat