News / Africa

    Senegalese President Facing Unrest Over Power Cuts, Electoral Changes

    A Senegalese youth walks past the ransacked office of state electrical company Senelec in the capital Dakar, June 28, 2011
    A Senegalese youth walks past the ransacked office of state electrical company Senelec in the capital Dakar, June 28, 2011

    Security forces in Senegal have put army tanks on the streets of the capital as President Abdoulaye Wade faces the most serious unrest of his ten-year rule.

    These protests began over a ruling-party push to change the constitution to make it easier for President Wade to win re-election next year. The government quickly abandoned those changes, but the violence has not stopped.

    Former prime minister Macky Sall says President Wade's miscalculation over constitutional change has unleashed deeper frustrations over how his government is run.

    With tension rising, Sall says the ruling party had to stop its push to change the constitution. Senegalese law gives great power to the president as the guardian of the constitution, as supreme army chief, as chief magistrate, and as the director of the council of ministers. So when people saw that the president was not safeguarding the constitution, Sall says they stood up and said “no.”

    Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade (file photo)
    Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade (file photo)

    He believes President Wade will try again in a different way to make those changes. And if he does, Sall says there will be more violence and chaos.

    Sall, who is now an opposition leader, told reporters Friday that President Wade is recruiting mercenaries from Ivory Coast to kidnap opponents and civil society leaders. The president's son, Karim, says it is Senegal's political opposition who are resorting to violence by arming demonstrators.

    Riot police have used tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon to put down near-nightly protests over prolonged power cuts.

    University student Mohamed Moustapha Seck says young people feel the country is falling backwards.

    'Lawless country'

    Ten years ago, Seck says Senegal was an example in West Africa. Now he says it is a seemingly lawless country that the government is not doing anything about. And that, he says, pains him.

    Seck says Senegal's leaders boast that this is an emerging market, but there is not even a regular supply of electricity. Investors will not invest in a country like this.

    Fadel Barro is the coordinator of a group of young musicians who have organized some of the demonstrations against the president.

    Barro says President Wade is a manipulator, a politician in the worst sense of the word. He says the president does not believe that young people can take their own initiative and are now being manipulated by his opponents.

    Political analyst Tamsir Ndiaye Jupiter says the size of the protests and their growing frequency, show the president is no longer facing just his political opponents.

    Frustration

    Ndiaye says the frustration is not limited to young people in Dakar but extends throughout Senegal to the villages where these young people come from. Demonstrators who turned out against constitutional changes were not only politicians and civil society members. He says they were joined by young people frustrated with the president's management of the country.

    Protestors are increasingly holding the president personally responsible for long blackouts because his son, Karim, is the energy minister as well as the minister for infrastructure, international cooperation, and regional development - a portfolio that gives him control of nearly 40 percent of Senegal's federal budget.

    Ndiaye says if the energy minister had been anyone other than the president's son, he would have lost his job weeks ago.

    Ndiaye says a small group of leaders, including the president's son, are trying to manage electricity without the help of properly-trained technicians. He says the absence of  transparency and ability has brought about a catastrophic and apocalyptic situation.

    Macky Sall says there is nothing wrong with Karim Wade helping his father, but he should do so as other ministers do.

    Sall says everything in Senegal can not be managed by a single minister, especially if this minister is the president's son. Karim Wade manages the earth, the sea, and the air, Sall says, he's everywhere. There must be a separation of government business from family business.

    President Wade says his son holds so many portfolios in government because of “exceptional competence.” He dismisses suggestions that his plan to create a post of vice president was meant to put his son in line to succeed him, saying that Karim Wade has as much right to be president one day as anyone else in Senegal.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora