Elections in Senegal

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.

Pro Wade election poster in Dakar

Dakar calling

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.



My advice to the BAD

The African Development Bank or Banque Africaine de Developpement (BAD) was long based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, seen as one of the most stable places in Africa. Then when the crisis got too bad in 2003, the bank evacuated its staff and moved to Tunis, Tunisia.

From a discussion on babilive.com:

Things fell apart in 2002, when rebels attempted to overthrow President Laurent Gbagbo, triggering massacres and civil war. With gunfire in the air, managers of the development bank frantically evacuated about 1,000 employees and their families in early 2003. The bank picked Tunisia as a temporary refuge in large part because of the stability offered by the dictatorial government of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

The new home sparked something of a culture clash, both bank and Tunisian officials say. The influx of thousands of bank professionals and their families jarred a country that had little experience with black Africans, except as students or laborers. Bank professional staff earn between $48,000 and $150,000 a year, far more than the average Tunisian, and many drive Mercedes or BMW sedans with easily identifiable African Development Bank license plates. They say they have often returned to their parked cars to find them intentionally scratched.

So dear BAD, if you are looking for stability, how about not choosing a dictatorship as your base next time?   How about a country where the will of the people is reflected in its governance and where civil liberties and political rights are respected?

This map from Freedom House where countries are ranked according to respect for civil liberties and political rights can serve as a starting point:


Green = "Free", Yellow = "Partly Free", Violet = "Not Free"

As far away from Africa as it gets

Lately I have been at a corporate event at a  conference hotel in  the Austrian alps.  Tomorrow there is a programme point involving taking a funicular up to a mountain, walking around a bit, socializing while eating wienerschnitzel and drinking some really good beer. So, ehm yes, sometimes it’s very hard to complain about the day job.

Anyhow, in the programme above this point I read:

## Start of mandatory event for all participants ##

Mandatory fun in other words. Only in German-speaking places…     Culturally speaking, if the Ivory Coast and Africa is at one end of the spectrum, this got to be pretty close to the other end.

Absolutely no woro woros in sight

Third World Driving Hints and Tips

Ok, time for more stuff I found somewhere on the internet. This is an excerpt from P J O’Rourke’s absolutely hilarious book Holidays in Hell:

By P. J. O’Rourke

Over the years I’ve done my share of driving in the Third World — in Pakistan, Africa, Asia, Germany and Texas. (Germany and Texas are not technically part of the Third World, but no one has told the Germans or Texicans.) I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I have made a few notes. Maybe these notes will be useful to readers who are planning to do something really stupid with their Hertz #1 Club cards.

What would be a road hazard anyplace else, in the Third World is probably the road. There are two techniques for coping with this. One is to drive very fast so your wheels “get on top” of the ruts and your car sails over the ditches, gullies and pot holes. Predictably, this will result in disaster. The other technique is to drive very slow. This will result in disaster. No matter how slowly you drive into a ten-foot hole, you’re still going to get hurt. You’ll find the locals themselves can’t make up their minds. Either they drive at 2 mph — which they do when there’s absolutely no way to get around them. Or else they drive at 100 mph — which they do coming right at you when you finally get a chance to pass the guy going 2 mph.

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