Wade is not Gbagbo
I’ve been following the presidential elections in Senegal today. Senegal’s president Abdoulaye Wade was long the opposition leader and democratic hope, and came to power in year 2000, just like Gbagbo. Then in power he didn’t quite meet expectations, but in terms of going bad after coming into power Wade was far from the nightmare of Gbagbo.
I supported Wade in year 2000 – along with everybody I knew in Senegal – and was in Dakar to celebrate his victory in the second round runoff on the 19th March 2000. Somewhere around 2002 I shifted away from Wade seeing some autocratic tendencies like allowing two journalists to be put in jail (albeit for a short period of time) for insulting him, and not much improvement on corruption. Some of the top persons of Wade’s party who is running against him now like Idrissa Seck and Macky Sall also left Wade around this time.
I just talked to a good friend in Senegal who like everybody else supported Wade in 2000. He had seen a bit of the pre-election riots, but said things were calm now. My friend said he voted for Macky Sall. His motivation was that Wade is too old, has given too much power and influence to his son Karim, has allowed too much corruption and said “You know Martin, in this country nothing works.”
I’m actually quite optimistic about Senegal – it looks like the preliminary results are what one would expect from a mature democracy in a first round presidential election, ie no one gets close to 50%. I think compared to year 2000, there are more people that vote along their convictions as opposed to for example what their village elder tells them to do. Also Senegal has a strong civil society and not the same ethnic tensions and divisions as the Ivory Coast which helps.
It looks like there will be a second round runoff between Abdoulaye Wade and Macky Sall which I guess Sall will win in a landslide as he is the anti-Wade candidate. And that should be good news for Senegal and its democracy. Sure, Senegal also has a Constitutional Council, but I don’t think Wade will pull a Gbagbo.
UPDATE: Latest figures WADE : 23,84% – SALL : 20,70% – NIASS : 19,50% – SECK : 7,70% – TANOR : 11,01% So Moustapha Niasse has a chance of going to the second round after all.