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Senegal: No Slack for President Wade After Peaceful Election Defeat

While the outside world appears unanimous in its praise for outgoing Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade and democracy after a peaceful election outcome in March 2012, the Senegalese blogosphere has been more critical of former President Wade's record. Bloggers have not forgotten the victims of pre-electoral violence, the violation of press freedoms, and multiple examples of poor governance throughout Wade's presidency from 2000-2012.

Abdoulaye Wade speaking in New York in 2002. By Marcel Bieri of Swiss Image. Shared by World Economic Forum on Flickr (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Fabienne Fatou Diop writes that Wade had no choice but to concede a loss to ex-prime minister and challenger Macky Sall in her post, “Senegal, 25th of March 2012, Honour to our people!” [fr]:

Non, Abdoulaye Wade n’a pas été démocrate en téléphonant à Macky Sall. Il n’avait plus le choix. Nous lui avons imposé le choix le 23 juin, nous lui avons imposé le choix lors des manifestations contre sa troisième candidature. Il a poussé son mépris à son paroxysme en violant notre Constitution, en toisant notre indignation et en brimant la seule et unique liberté qu’il nous restait, celle de manifester.

No, Abdoulaye Wade was not being democratic in telephoning Macky Sall. He didn't have a choice anymore. We imposed that choice on him on June the 23rd, we imposed that choice on him in the demonstrations against his third run for the presidency. He showed contempt at its height in violating our Constitution, in disregarding our indignation and in repressing our sole, our last remaining liberty, the right to demonstrate.

On his blog, Mr. Boombastic PlO recalls Wade's “macabre reign” [fr]:

L'élection de Macky Sall n'est pas la première alternance au Sénégal qui a toujours été démocratique. Wade serait même une parenthèse malheureuse car sous sa présidence les libertés ont été bafouées par des meurtres … Des journalistes & opposants ont ete emprisonnés (le cas des jeunes socialistes Malick Noel Seck et Barthélémy Diaz) et surtout les morts de la crise pré-électorale.

The election of Macky Sall is not the first handover of power in Senegal, which has always been a democracy. Wade's time in office will still be an unfortunate parenthesis in Senegalese political history, a time in which freedoms were crushed by murder… Journalists and political opponents were imprisoned (as in the case of the young socialists, Malick Noel Seck and Barthélémy Diaz), and above all, a time marked by the killings during the pre-electoral crisis.

Senegalese flag on the Place de l'obélisque by Nd1mbee on FlickR with his permission

In “Adieu Wade,” [fr] Wirriyamu writes:

Ces dernières années A. Wade a eu maintes fois l’occasion d’accorder un minimum d’attention aux souhaits de son peuple … Aucune de ces occasions n’a été saisie. Au contraire quand il ne répondait pas par le mépris (« je suis majoritaire » « ce sont des poltrons » « il ne se passera rien ») il répondait par l’agression.

Over the years, Abdoulaye Wade had many opportunities to pay even the slightest attention to the wishes of his people… He did not make use of any of these opportunities. On the contrary, on those occasions where he did not respond with scorn (making assertions such as “I have a majority,” “These people are just cowards,” or “Nothing's going to happen”), he responded with aggression.

Haby Ba, in an entry entitled “Président Macky Sall”, [fr] states that Wade's controversial candidacy for a third term deprived the country of a true electoral campaign:

Nous aurions dû avoir cette année une campagne qui porte sur les choix de société. Comment faisons-nous pour reconstruire l’école sénégalaise qui est clairement à la dérive? Comment organiser la solidarité nationale pour que les plus démunis soit non seulement scolarisés mais également suivis sur le plan médical? Ces questions-là n’ont pas du tout été abordées parce que nous étions focalisés sur la nécessité de veiller à la transparence du processus électoral.

This year, we should have had a campaign on social choices; what can we do to rebuild the Senegalese school system, which is clearly adrift? How can we build national solidarity so that the most impoverished can not only receive an education, but also have health care? These questions were not at all tackled because we were consumed with the need to watch over the transparency of the electoral system.

Wirriyamu [fr] says:

Au final, en maintenant sa candidature, Wade a peut-être troublé le cours de l’histoire au Sénégal. Il a empêché la juste confrontation des idées qu’est une élection digne de ce nom. L’opposition s’est retrouvée à se structurer autour d’un seul projet : faire partir Wade. Ce faisant le Sénégal ne sait pas grand-chose des projets et ne sait pas ce qu’elle aura sauf qu’elle sait que ce ne sera pas avec Wade …

In the end, by insisting on running for president, Wade has potentially upset the course of Senegalese history. He did not allow the fair battle of ideas, which any election worthy of the name entails, to take place. The opposition ended up having to organise itself around a sole project: getting rid of Wade. In so doing, Senegal has shown that she knows very little about projects and that she does not know what it is that her future holds, only that this future will not be with Wade…

Bloggers are unanimous in their conclusions and in their demand that justice be done. According to Fabienne Fatou Diop [fr]:

Nous n’aimerions pas que les décès et les blessés lors des manifestations contre la troisième candidature d’Abdoulaye Wade soient vains. Nous exigeons que les auteurs et les commanditaires de ces crimes soient traduits devant la justice.

We don't want the injuries and the lives lost during the demonstrations against Abdoulaye Wade's third run for the presidency to be in vain. We demand that those that carried out and those that ordered these crimes be brought to justice.

Haby Ba says [fr]:

Tant que les politiciens ne seront pas conscients que leurs actes ont des conséquences -y compris pénales- ils continueront à piller ce pays. Seule la justice peut nous éviter de retomber dans la même spirale.

Politicians are so oblivious to the fact that their actions have consequences, including penal consequences, that they continue to pillage this country. Only the justice system can prevent us from falling back into the same old spiral.

Mr. BoOmbastic PlO writes [fr]:

Ces parents de victimes estiment que Wade et ses hommes ne doivent pas emporter avec eux «cette injustice et que toute la lumière doit être faite sur ces meurtres.»

The victims’ families believe that Wade and his men should not be able get away with “this injustice and that a light should be shone on their deaths”.

On Twitter, @astouka has started a petition calling for an audit of the outgoing government in Senegal, as well as the launch of new judicial inquiries [fr].

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