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Senegal Elections: Towards Another Wade Term?

Lesenegalveut
“Senegal Wants Its Freedom Back” headline. By R-Nesto.

Yesterday was election day in Senegal. A campaign marked by some violent clashes started about a month ago and most of the Senegalese bloggers were hoping to see the incumbent, PDS  [Social Democratic Party] leader Abdoulaye Wade, defeated. Wade has been in office since 2000 and is just over 80 years old. There were (Fr) about 15 candidates, some representing politcal parties, others coalitions. But judging from their latest posts, Senegal may be in for another Wade term.

Will There Even Be a Second Round?

Blog Politique du Sénégal, which has had nothing but harsh words for Wade, seems pessimistic:

Hormis les directoires de campagne des candidats Ousmane Tanor Dieng et Idrissa Seck, c’est le silence radio dans les différents états-majors politiques. Tanor et Seck contestent les chiffres de la Coalition Sopi 2007. Mais les tendances qui se dessinent accréditent la victoire de Me Abdoulaye Wade. Le second tour parait de plus en plus improbable.

Except for the the campaigns of candidates Ousmane Tanor DIeng and Idrissa Seck, none of the other campaign hedquarters are saying anything. Tanor and Seck contest the numbers of the Sopi Coalition 2007. But increasingly, the trend is to accept Abdoulaye Wade's victory. A second round seems less and less likely.

Of course the Blog has questions about the validity of purported results:

Reste maintenant à savoir si les résultats annoncés sont sincères. Les doutes sur la fiabilité du fichier électoral, le nombre d'électeurs qui n'ont pas reçues leurs cartes, les disfonctionnments répétés de la procédure de vote laissent planer un doute sur l'honnêteté du scrutin. Doute corroboré par l'attitude pour le moins antidémocratique du Pds.

Are the announced results believable? Doubts about the trustworthiness of the electoral process, the number of voters who did not receive voting cards, repeated disfunctions in the voting process allow for doubt on the validity of results. Doubts corroborated by the relatively antidemocatic attitude of [Wade's party] the PDS.

Seckasystème summarizes the situation in the following words:

Les uns crient déjà victoires dès le premier tour avec une moyenne de 55% des suffrages exprimés en faveur de Wade,tandis que  L'Opposition qui croyait et croit encore à un second tour,dénonce les dysfonctionnements qui ont entâché l'organisation et le déroulement du scrutin.(Rétention des cartes d'électeurs dans les zones réputées hostiles au président sortant Wade,manque de bulletins de votes de certains candidats de l'opposition dans de nombreux bureaux de vote,absence ou retard considérable de superviseurs dans de nombreux bureaux de vote etc…)

Some are crying victory starting at the first round with an average of about 55% of ballots cast in favor of Wade. The opposition who believed yesterday and still believes today in a second round, denounces malfunctions that have tainted the organization and evolution of voting. (Retention of voter cards in areas reputed hostile to incumbent Wade, lack of ballots for certain candidates of the opposition in many voting centers, absence or considerable delay in supervision in many voting centers etc…)

Yesterday, Blog Politique du Sénégal seemed contrite that early results placed Wade ahead. The title of one Sunday post, Condolences to all Democrats, illustrated by a picture of an abyss with the caption “Democracy at the bottom of the well” speak volumes:

j'ai écouté Macky Sall annoncer les résultats provisoires ; + de 60 % pour Wade ! Il me parait incroyable que ce candidat puisse faire autant au 1er tour, sans magouilles s'entend. En écoutant les résultats donnés par les radios, une chose m'a frappé, dans de très nombreux bureaux environ 30% des inscrits n'ont pas voté. Il serait intéressant de connaitre le nombre de cartes qui n'ont pas été distribuées. Ceci expliquerait peut-être cela.

I heard Macky Sall announce early results: Wade ahead at 60%! It seems incredible that this candidate could do as well in the first round without fraud. … In many voting centers, about 30% of people did not vote despite being registered. It would be interesting to find out how many cards were not handed out. That might explain the abstention.

Seck a Close Second

Blog Politique du Sénégal posted yesterday about Wade's seeming runner up, Idrissa Seck, who over all (Fr): “is close behind Wade because he is present everywhere as the candidate of the Sopi Coalition 2007.” Ousmane Tanor Dieng is emerging (Fr) in third place and leads in his home turf of Nguéniène.

What Went Wrong for the Opposition?

Blog Politique du Sénégal has an answer:

Encore une fois, l'opposition a perdu par manque de discernement et de courage. La politique n'est pas un jeu. Elle gère le quotidien et l'avenir des populations. Les conséquences de la victoire ou de la défaite ne sont pas des phénomènes marginaux. C'est grave, très grave. Une élection n'est pas un match de foot !

Once again, the opposition lost for lack of discernment and courage. Politics are not a game. They determine the daily lives and the future of populations. This is problematic, very problematic. An election is not a soccer match!

Seckasysteme‘s assessment of the political landscape before the election presented a pretty grim picture:

Si le seul critère pour être une grande démocratie se résumait au nombre de partis politiques d’un pays,le Sénégal avec sa centaine de Partis politiques,serait la première démocratie du monde ;mais voilà que la majorité de ces partis ne sont ni plus ni moins que des sortes d’asociations de loi 1901,à trés faible représentation et loin de répondre à une quelconque idéologie ;ce sont juste des boites aux lettres … dont les résponsables trouvent par ce biais,le moyen de monayer leur soutien à tel ou tel autre parti plus représentatif. Heureusement que les régles du jeu aient été modifiées en procédant à une sélection des candidats aux éléctions aussi bien législatives que présidentielles,par l’argent.C’est ainsi que bon nombre de partis et de candidats aux assises douteuses furent éliminés avant même de combattre.

If the only criterion for a great democracy boils down to the number of political parties of a country, Senegal with its hundred political parties would be the world's top democracy. Unfortunately, the majority of those parties are nothing more than associations with very weak representation and far from answering to any real ideology. They are just post office boxes …used by their leaders to sell their support to other, more representative parties. Thankfully the rules of the game have been modified by a money-driven selection process of candidates to the legislative as well as presidential elections. So a good number of parties and candidates with doubtful profiles were eliminated before even running.

Violence Leading Up to the Election

According to Seckasystème in a post before the election:

La campagne électorale qui bat son plein depuis le 04-02-2007 est émaillée d'incidents graves,de violences aussi bien verbales que physiques.

The electoral campaign which started February 4, 2007 is sprinkled with grave incidents as well as verbal and physical violence.

La culture de la violence qui a longtemps prévalu au PDS semble être érigée en systéme.Les éléments du Parti-Etat du Président Wade ont été à l’origine ou au coeur de tous les actes d’agression et de violences,jusqu’ici signalés depuis le début de la campagne électorale ;et le pire est que les violences entre partisans du même parti PDS sont signalés tous les jours.

The culture of violence that has long prevailed at the PDS is erected as a system. Members of the Party/State of President Wade are behind and at the heart of all acts of agression and violence that have happened since the beginning of the electoral campaign. And the worse is that violence among partisans of PDS is being reported every day.

Three days to election day, the blogger posted (Fr) graphic pictures of people injured in an alleged scuffle between partisans of PDS and those of candidate Idrissa Seck.

Blog Politique du Sénégal went as far as intimating that:

J’ai entendu des gens dire qu’il faut rassurer Wade pour avoir des élections paisibles et transparentes, mais il n’y a rien à rassurer.

I have heard that Wade must be appeased in order for peaceful and transparent elections to take place, but there is nothing to appease.


Early Military Vote

Seckasysteme explained (Fr) that the military voted on February 17 and 18 in calm and discipline except for one incident in a voting booth in Ouakame. The most alarming incident, continued the blogger (Fr) had to do with the absence of ballots for Moustapha Niass, the candidate of the “Coalition Alternative 2007″ in a voting booth near the Yoff airport. The blogger wasn't sure (Fr) whether the omission was caused by negligence or sabotage. He hoped that (Fr) the electoral commission would do a good job in reacting to the candidate's request for the cancellation of all votes registered in that voting booth.

Election Humor

Several days before the election the hilarious Blog Politique du Sénégal posted this spoof interview of a hypothetical election expert :

Nous : Mon cher Concombre masqué, que faut-il pour faire une campagne électorale au Sénégal ?
Concombre masqué : Permettez moi d'abord de remercier le président de la république qui a toujours été comme un père pour moi, mon vénéré marabout sans lequel je ne serai pas ce que je suis, mon Papa, ma Maman. Vous pouvez répéter votre question siouplait ?

Concombre masqué : Disons le tout net l'important c'est le fric. Rassurez-vous personne ne vous demandera sa provenance. Donc de l'argent un peu douteux ou même de l'argent carrément sale peut faire l'affaire. L'important c'est d'en avoir beaucoup…

La première chose à acheter avec cet argent c'est un troupeau de marabouts plus ou moins malfaisants. Certains vous garantiront que vous allez gagner dès le
premier tour avec au moins 85 % des voix, les autres vont marabouter vos adversaires pour par exemple les rendre aphones (sans voix, je précise pour les journalistes), ou leur faire avoir un accident de voiture voire rencontrer un marteau qui se promène dans le coin par hasard…

Us: Dear Masked Cucumber, what must one do to run for office in Senegal?

Masked Cucumber: Let me first thank the President who has always been like a father for me, my venerated marabout without whom I would not be here today, my father, my mother. Could you … repeat the question?

Masked Cucumber: Let's say it loud and clear, the most important things is money. Rest assured that no one will ask where it came from. So dubious or outright dirty money will do the trick. What matters most is to have a lot of it …

The first thing to buy with the money is a tribe of more or less mischievious marabouts. Some will guarantee you that you will win from the very first round with at least 85% of the vote, others will hoodwink your adversaries to, say, make them voiceless or have a car accident or run into a hammer that was hanging around the way by happenstance…

5 comments

  • […] 27 Feb 2007 Abdoulaye Wade gagne ses életions/ Abdoulaye Wade wins his elections Posted by Fodé-Moussa Keita under Senegal , Afrique , Africa , Politique , Politics  Beaucoup (lien anglais) croyaient que Wade ne survivrait pas aux élections de Dimanche dernier. D’autres, on plutôt dit qu’il devrait affronter un adversaire au deuxième tour. Mais voilà, Wade a remporté les élections dès le premier tour avec 57% des suffrages. […]

  • […] 原文: Senegal Elections: Towards Anotehr Wade Term?作者: Alice Backer译者: Leonard校对:Portnoy […]

  • […] Ethan has a great roundup via Global Voices about what various Senegalese bloggers are saying about things. […]

  • Nice to see one of my picture here… I’m not against, but maybe you just can ask or tell me before…

    Interesting article and synthesis of the situation in Senegal.
    Thank you very much for your work.

  • Julien,

    I took the liberty of posting your picture here because it was licenced “some rights reserved” i.e. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 in Flickr under the name R-Nesto.
    This means that you have given the public permission in Flickr to “copy, distribute and transmit” the picture so long as there is attribution. As you can see in the article, I indeed attributed the picture to the username R-Nesto under which it appears in Flickr.

    Thank you for your kind words on the article and please visit us again.

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