President of Senegal:There Are Too Many Journalists
By EUNICE LEE and APRIL YEE
The UNITY News
Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade told a dozen American journalists today that “there are too many papers in Senegal, too many journalists.”
Wade, who was invited to Chicago by the National Association of Black Journalists to address the UNITY convention, brushed off the media blackout in his country on Monday, when most newspapers did not print as a protest of a reported police beating of two journalists at a soccer match in June. Wade said that police were trying to protect soccer players from the reporters who he claimed were physically attacking the players.
“They’re competing to bring out extraordinary headlines. They attack people, they make up things,” Wade told said to journalists at a breakfast.
“Now, I’m not asking for them to praise me or say good things about me.”
Wade, who spoke in French and English, also addressed about his plans to increase Senegal’s food production and fight climate change, the topic of his UNITY speech on Friday afternoon. He was flanked by his minister of information and spokesperson, and elsewhere in the room sat Senegalese politicians and journalists exclusively from Senegal-owned media outlets, though Wade added that a privately–owned African news organization had been invited.
Wade also addressed International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s July 14 indictment of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Since 2003, when violence in Darfur ignited, some 300,000 people have died and 2.2 million have fled their homes, according to the United Nations.
“What is recognized by everybody is that many people were killed there,” Wade said. “I’m not sure it’s a genocide.”
Wade said al-Bashir called him for advice when initially presented with the charges.
“I think he was a bit surprised by the decision,” Wade said. “I was the one who told him it’s not your collaborators, it’s you. What can I do now? I’m thinking about it, I don’t know.”
“I am a friend of President Bashir,” Wade said. “My friendship does not mean that…I’m going to protect him from the law.”