Senegal 2005

Africa

Yearbook 2005

Senegal. In January, Parliament passed a contentious law that granted amnesty to persons convicted of political crimes in 1983-2004. According to countryaah, Dakar is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Senegal. The opposition, but also parts of the ruling party alliance, criticized the law, which meant that those suspected of the murder of the Constitutional Council’s Vice President Babacar Seye in 1993 could not be prosecuted.

Abdourahim Agne, leader of the small Reform Party, was arrested in May and charged with “threats to the security of the kingdom” after he urged the Senegalese to go out into the streets to demand the departure of President Abdoulaye Wade. Two months later, Idrissa Seck, who was close to the president and was prime minister from November 2002 to April 2004, was also arrested. Some appraisers felt that Wade was trying to use the judiciary to get rid of a political rival. Seck was indicted in July for trying to undermine state security and would remain in custody until the trial. The basis for the prosecution was not stated. In August, another prosecution was brought against the former prime minister. This time it involved corruption, embezzlement of state funds and bribery. Seck, who was then mayor of Thiès, denied that he had been guilty of the crimes he was accused of. Since he had been the country’s prime minister, his case could not be brought up in a regular court. In August, Parliament voted for it to be examined instead by a special court, which only addresses cases against government members accused of serious crimes. This court had not met since 1962. In the capital Dakar there were clashes between Seck’s supporters and the police.

Senegal decided in October to re-establish diplomatic relations with China and at the same time severed contacts with Taiwan.

In November, ferry traffic between Casamance in the south and Dakar resumed after lying down since the ferry disaster in the fall of 2002, when 1,800 people died. Due to the ferry accident, the road between north and south became more important. Many traveled via the Gambia and the Gambians’ decision to double the prices of ferry tickets across the Gambia River created tensions between the countries. A transport block in the autumn led to a shortage of some goods in Casamance, but also Gambia was hit financially. The African Union (AU) and its President, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, traveled to the region in October to mediate the conflict. The Gambia later lowered ferry prices. Chad’s former dictator, Hissène Habré, who has lived in exile in Senegal since the early 1990s, was arrested in October in Belgium for crimes against humanity during his reign in 1982-90. A Senegalese court ruled at the end of November that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case. Habré was released, but was arrested again a day later. According to the Senegalese government, he would be allowed to stay in the country until the AU had decided how his case would be handled.

In mid-December, students met with police in Dakar in connection with protests against a previous police intervention against thousands of striking school students in Ziguinchor in Casamance. The school strike had been triggered by accusations that customs officials had sold computer equipment intended for schools.