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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09DAKAR378 2009-03-26 09:09:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Dakar
Cable title:  

Senegal's local elections: Legal Shenanigans

Tags:   PGOV PREL PINS KDEM ECON SG 
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VZCZCXRO0347
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #0378 0850909
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260909Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2112
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
					UNCLAS DAKAR 000378 

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

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

TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM ECON SG
SUBJECT: Senegal's local elections: Legal Shenanigans



1. (SBU) Summary: On March 19, the National Electoral Committee
(CENA) using a Supreme Court ruling that affirmed its authority to
do so, ordered GOS authorities in the region of Diourbel to stop the
ruling party from participating in the March 22 local elections in
ten rural districts where they had missed the deadline to submit
their party lists. However, in a blatant violation of the law, the
Minister of Interior issued a statement ordering the local
authorities in the concerned communities to include the
aforementioned party lists and come Election Day they had done so.
End Summary.

Ruling Party Violates Deadline


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




2. (SBU) The case on which the Supreme Court ruled was initiated by
the CENA against the Ministry of Interior in charge of organizing
elections in Senegal. The ruling Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS),
under the SOPI coalition umbrella, had missed the deadline to
present its candidates in ten rural communities in NDindy and
Ndoulo, in the Diourbel region. It is alleged GOS representatives
in those two communities had put the fix in to cover this oversight.
The National Electoral Committee took the case to the Court of
Appeals of Dakar, which ruled that there was not enough evidence to
prove that the GOS acted wrongfully allowing SOPI to compete.

The Power of Interpretation


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




3. (SBU) The National Electoral Committee then took the case to the
Supreme Court. In its March 16 ruling, the Supreme Court confirmed
that the Court of Appeals of Dakar had the legal authority to
consider and rule on the case, but that the CENA had the implicit
right to exercise the prerogatives entrusted to it by law and that
those prerogatives were not subject to judicial review. In other
words, the Supreme Court found that the CENA should not ask the
courts to do something that the law had already given it the power
to do.

Ball in CENA's Court


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




4. (SBU) The Chair of the Diourbel branch of the National Electoral
Committee played a pivotal role in this case. Assane Dioma Ndiaye
has a reputation as a brilliant attorney. He chairs the human
rights organization ONDH and he is also the President of the
Electoral Committee of Diourbel. He initiated the Court case
against the GOS. He told Embassy staff that after the Supreme Court
ruling he had threatened to resign if the National Electoral
Committee had not acted by March 20. In his view, The Supreme Court
had sent the ball back to the Committee and they had to act. On
March 19, CENA unanimously decided to exercise its prerogative and
ordered the Prefects overseeing the aforementioned districts to
remove from the ballots lists of the ruling party's candidates.

Minister of the Interior Breaks the Law


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




5. (SBU) Following CENA's decision, the Minister of Interior
announced that he had no intention of complying with it, in spite of
the Supreme Court decision specifically confirming CENA's authority
to rule on the matter. The Minister of Interior unilaterally
declared CENA's ruling unconstitutional and refused to give the
order to the local prefect to remove the ruling party's ballots from
contention. Come the day of the election, US Embassy observers
visited the aforementioned municipalities and noted that the SOPI
ballots were still in play. However, in a belated piece of civic
justice, the SOPI coalition was crushed by the opposition Benno
coalition in nine of the ten communities in question.

COMMENT


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




5. (SBU) Although the Senegalese Electoral Code was already fairly
clear regarding the powers of the National Electoral Committee, the
Court's ruling has the merit of interpreting it for the GOS
administrators as well as the Committee's members. This first
landmark ruling of the newly established Supreme Court showed the
Court's finesse and courage in handling what was a very sensitive
politically-loaded issue. The ruling gave the CENA officials the
backing they needed to make a decision the ruling party was sure to
not like. Up to that point, this matter speaks to Senegal's
strengths as a democracy. Unfortunately, the Minister of Interior's
decision demonstrates that the rule of law is not always respected
by the ruling party.
Bernicat