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2008 Unity Conference : » President of Senegal:There Are Too Many Journalists

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.”

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12 Responses to “President of Senegal:There Are Too Many Journalists”

  1. Mohamed GUEYE Says:

    As a Senegalese journalist, i am not surprised by what Mr Wade is saying. that is just for foreign press consumption. I only ask that those who have given him the opportunity to state those lies, will give also some representatives of the Senegalese press to state the truth of the press in this country since his arrival in the country

  2. 2008 Unity Conference : » Obama not necessarily best ally for Africa, Senegal president says Says:

    [...] president Abdoulaye Wade said he does not presume that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, if elected president, [...]

  3. sensocialiste Says:

    Dear Onica,

    We are writing to inform you and to express our deepest concerns about your assessment that Mister Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal is « an African leader of great conviction and accomplishments whose tireless work to advance democratic values, multi-party elections and transparent governance has promoted human rights and economic development in Senegal and throughout Africa. ». This declaration is baseless and here are the following facts to prove it :

    In June 21st. 2008 , Boubacar Kambel Dieng and Karamoko Thioune were beaten by police officers after a soccer game during which they were interviewing the players.Those police officers involved in the beating are still on the job as if nothing has ever happened. You can learn about this by visiting CPJ website at http://www.cpj.org.

    In August 2007,Transport Minister Farba Senghor threatened to “beat up” independent daily news Walf Grand-Place’s reporter Pape Sambaré Ndour, after calling him a “bastard.”

    In June 3rd, during the international conference on World Food Security held in Rome , Italy , president Wade threatened Yakham Mbaye, editor of the daily Le Populaire, according to journalists who have witnessed the incident.

    In July 2004 Madiambal Diagne, owner and managing editor of the popular independent newspaper Le Quotidien, was jailed for more than two weeks for articles he wrote in 2004 about alleged executive interference in the judiciary and corruption in the customs service. Diagne was imprisoned under a controversial national security provision known as Article 80 of the penal code.

    In may of this year the Committee to Protect Journalists has reiterated its call to Senegalese authorities “to end a pattern of criminal defamation prosecutions against the press” after many journalists were brought to court to face criminal proceedings for the expression of their opinions.

    In March, Papa Moussa Guèye, director of the private daily L’Exclusif, based in the city of Rufisque, 24 miles east of Dakar, was the third Senegalese journalist handed a six-month suspended prison term within a week for alleging presidential late-night “escapades.”

    In April, the director Jules Diop and Editor-in-Chief Serigne Saliou Samb of private daily newspaper L’Observateur were handed six-month suspended prison sentences and heavy damages over a critical story.

    In July 7, Abdou Latif Coulibaly, was prevented from traveling to the US , where he was invited to speak at a conference. He was handed an order to appear in court in July 12th , 2008 to answer questions about his latest book on the pillaging of the LONASE, the national lottery company.

    The list can go longer ; and moreover nothing has prevented the authorities to do away with this controversial provision of our penal code but their willingness to keep in check and domesticate the press.

    Your statement contrasts profoundly with a memo written in the june 18th, 2008 issue of the New York Times, sent from Dakar by Lydia Polgreen and titled Shadows Grow Across One of Africa ’s Bright Lights.

    In New York Time’s article it is stated that “once a darling of international donors, who have spent millions to help Senegal build schools and clinics, pay off its debts and plan infrastructure projects, the country has found itself criticized by representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank over public spending and policies that have worsened the effects of rising food prices.

    These are the facts and they speak louder than million words. We are troubled when journalists who are supposed to inform people objectively are biais and blinded by their own interests.

    Also, on the preservation of the environment issues, president Wade is far from being an example. He is known for declassifying forests in Senegal and giving them to his allies for mere political reasons despite the advice of experts in forestry not to do so. He doesn’t listen to experts who raised concerns about the deforestation and the destruction of the senegalese coast.

    This year 18 children died of lead poisoning in Ngagne Diaw, a neighborhood in the suburbs of the capital, Dakar . His policies have so impoverished our people that they do whatever they can to survive, including exposing themselves to toxic such as lead.

    We hope you will read more about Senegal and president Wade’s policies that are against people’s will and needs. While people are suffering and striving to

    New York, July 23rd, 2008

    Fron Siggil Senegal / USA

    ALARMING SITUATION IN SENEGAL

    We, the members of “Front Siggil Senegaal”, the U.S. chapter, are writing to inform you and to express our deepest concerns, about President Abdoulaye Wade and his regime whom we are holding accountable for destroying our people’s lives and our democratic and economic gains.

    In fact, on March 19, 2000, when the Senegalese overwhelmingly elected the new president, Abdoulaye Wade, ( sending the party that has been ruling the country since its independence to the opposition) they had hoped for better living conditions and good governance.

    Eight (8) years later, disappointment from the Senegalese is at a desperate level. As an illustration, here are the findings of Transparency International (TI) regarding the ranking of Senegal in the Corruption Perception Index: In the year 1998, Senegal was ranked 55 out of around 150 countries as being the least corrupt country; in 1999, Senegal was still in the 50’s ranking (it was ranked 58); After President Wade took office in 2000, the rank for Senegal jumped to the 60’s and 70’s: 65th in 2001, 76th in 2003, and 78th in 2005. As we can see, over the last years the ranking of Senegal in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by TI has been deteriorating.

    Other surveys corroborate TI Senegal’s findings. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund after their last audit of the Senegalese administration “encouraged [the Senegalese administration] to vigorously implement the public expenditure management reform” and pass anti-corruption laws. Since the year 2001, these recommendations to the Senegalese government are coming like “leit motiv” from all the financial and international cooperation institutions. The Senegalese administration keeps promising to pass anti-corruption laws. The reality is that the political will and interest is not there. The U4 – Anti Corruption Resource Center says it better. There is “a wide gap between governments’ anti-corruption rhetoric and the impunity enjoyed by public officials. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that anti-corruption institutions are often established to appease international actors, while governments endeavor not to alienate political allies at home through anti-corruption crackdowns.”

    Afrol News in its 26 September 2007 online publication noted “the Wade government has hitherto been observed to fail to take strong action against corruption, despite the fact that Mr. Wade had made the fight against corruption one of his main election campaign issues in year 2000. Recent reports seem to indicate that corruption indeed has become more widespread under the current administration.”

    On June 30, 2005, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has approved a grant of up to $6.5 million to assist Senegal in the development of its Millennium Challenge Compact. It notified the Congress of such approval and requested the allocation and obligation of the funds. (See Millennium Challenge Corporation Congressional Notification sent on June 30, 2005 by Mr. Frances C, McNaught, Vice President of Domestic Relations). Yet, on a surprising move, during the summer of 2007, the Senegalese republic decided to seek other funds for the same project from Dubai and the Ben Laden Group. Why such move when the funds were already secured and granted on VERY FAVORABLE terms while the funds from Dubai and the Ben Laden group were loans at the market’s interest rate? The answer without any doubt is that while the MCC funds were a grant, the control exercised by the American congress would make it difficult to embezzle the funds or divert them. At the same time, the money from Dubai and the Ben Laden Group could easily by siphoned to personal bank accounts, as it has been the case with money offered back in 2001 by the Taiwanese government to the Senegalese government.

    The latest scandal with the Senegalese administrative and related to a total opacity in how the government concludes agreements and sign contract is the attribution of a phone license to SUDATEL, a Sudanese phone company. The license was attributed without any public offer. The government was the one who selected, on its own, the company that would be allowed to compete for that phone market. This is because the agreement was sealed before hand and the bid was open to a few companies just so it would not be obvious. A deeper investigation on SUDATEL by the Socialist Party (a Senegalese opposing party) reveals that SUDATEL is listed by the US government as one of the corporations that are currently financing and fueling the crimes committed in the Darfur region. (See http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/actions/20070529.shtml)

    Finally, President Wade has changed the law to create a senate of 100 members of which, 65 members and its president were chosen without elections by President Wade himself. The main opposition parties decided to boycott the only 35 senatorial seats placed on election, arguing that since there already exists a National Assembly, the senate is not only unnecessary but that the money to make it function could be used to improve the daily lives of the population, especially in the rural areas and that creating a senate is simply President Wade’s will to find ways to hand over the political power to his son, Karim Wade, since, he (President Wade), upon taking up office in the year 2000, dissolved the already existing senate on grounds that, that elected senate was costly.
    This new senate was installed on Wednesday 26, 2007.

    This new Senate and SUDATEL situation combined with the corruption level and lack of transparency by the Senegalese administration is what is leading us to take actions. One of those actions is to draw the attention of the partners of the Senegalese administration on these hidden facts. We, in fact, believe that it is our responsibility in contributing in letting the truth out about the dealings of President Wade and his government; which is the purpose of this letter.

    Should you need more information about the political situation in Senegal, don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Sincerely,
    Amadou Ndiaye, representative of the Socialist Party, Cell. 1917-569-5877
    Samba Prosper Mbaye, representative of Democratic League, Cell. 1646-548-8170
    Fallou Gueye, represntative of the Union of African Workers/ Senegal , Cell. 1212-665-4924,
    Mamadou Lamine Ndiaye, representative of the AFP, Cell. 1917-355-1716

  4. Léo Says:

    Please, before writing about Abdoulaye Wade, come first in sénégal and ask those who are the other side, I meen those who don’t belong to the AW’s family or party. They’re more than 80% of the population. I think that you’ll descover who AW is!! A liar, an antidemoctratic leader, a thief and a murderer.
    Most of the senegalese people don’t care about what he’s going to do or to say there in chicago, all they know is that he’s going again to do his best to hide the truth!!

  5. paco Says:

    Hi,

    This president and his government don’t respect journalists. about this case, we have now after his version, two positions which come from authorities and they are totally different. At first, the ministry of public security says that journalists attack policemen, the president says journalists attack players. nonsense. you invite a dictator, a person who has any respect for press.

  6. Ndiol Fall Says:

    Dear Friends in the US

    I do beleive that before committing yourselves to writing such an artcle which by the way has some truth in it, you would at least should have came to Senegal to investigate further to coorborate your article.
    From the list fo people who wrote this pamphlet, I have seen that all of you have been basent from this country ofr at least 20 yeras and counting. I do know for sure de Sambad Porsoer Ndiaye for instance has no traveling document to come to the country and I am amazed that he could sign on to substantiate these findings on Senegal.

    You may be wrong with the cooruption level in this country and the findings of the Corruption Index that many of us are aware of by reading its conclusion every year.
    But to just single out SUDATEL because the US says so is just to cheap from your part to report in this article.
    For a reason other than politics you should have known for your own information that the US put on the list of terrorist organization and company any countries that Bush feels like regardless of what the majority of the US citizen think.
    It is so cheap from you guy that you should have known that the US policy singles out every muslim organization that helps the Palestinian people regardless of the nature of the financial help needed for that effect.

    I am not a politicain , but I lived in The US long enough, studied, workrd there and came back to this Country to face the music even if it means having to tackle corruption and bureaucracy on the daily basis.
    Everyone knows what our country is dealing with since Wade came to power and it is no news to anyone that life has been hard because of its lack of transparancy and leadership.
    We are also aware of the level of irresponsible fiscal spending of this government of “amateurs” and we should all applaude the courage of IMF and the World Bank to stay firm and came out with warning reports concerning the spending Spree of this president and his entourage.

    But we can’t fight it from abroad by fleeing our nation and leaving it in the hands of these unconscious and unethical, corrupt people.
    We should fight them within.

    Concerning the press, the obvious suggest that what Voltaire says is hed true. When it comes to money, everyone belongs to the same religion.
    Wade has his own press that he recognized he helped and financed. They would write and state positive facts for every actions, decrees and laws that Wade, his government and relatives would undertake.
    To that effect, RTS1 is known to be the leading candidate for such entertaintment.
    on the other hands, there are conflicting media that are here only to relate negative news and ” faits divers ” everyday.
    That kind of press doesnt render services to the real press and news. They are called non journalistics acolytes.
    And there is an objective press , very limited unfortunately and very few. This kind of journalistes should be encouraged and praised for just stating facts and working to better inform the people.

    Please be objective in your remarks, commentaries, and be at list candid that you are politicians and what you do is exagerate the facts. You do not know a lot, because you have been living in a world of utopia and fantasia for having been out this country for so long. Hearsay is really what you have reported on your article and that is not considered holding water if you were in a court of law.

    Sincerely,
    Ndiol Fall

  7. Noir Africain Says:

    Senegalease journalists are right to defend their colleagues brutally assaulted. But the symbolism used in their struggle faced patriots and panafricanists.Brassard black, black day,the senegalease journalist Union( Cdpj )insult their black race . They must stop such childishness and find other symbols. The other day I was shocked to hear Mr Yaxam MBAYE(coordinator of Cdpj) justify the choice of black armband with arguments worthy of Gobineau. Black symbolizes sadness, he said. What horror of the mouth of an actor who seeks mission is to enlighten his people! Whether the senegalese journalists engineer the fight vigorously and aggressively, so much the better for their livelihood and likely for democracy, but they have be it as it may to respect our race.

  8. sibasiour Says:

    in senegal there is no press
    there is more politicien in campain

  9. Homere Says:

    Abdoulaye Wade’s hidden age is 86.At that age what is expected from a man is wisdom and honorability.Sadly,our president is far from having these two qualities.Since the day he took over in 2000,the country has known its worst days ever.His very first words in private ,as reported by his former Prime Minister ,were “Now our worries for money are over”.Money scandals are rampant.He has been in a collision course with
    journalists,men of culture and intellectuals who dare profess different ideas from his own.May God rid us of such a monster!

  10. Newstips v2.0 » Blog Archive » Conference attack Says:

    [...] Unity 2008’s online news service has covered the incidents:  ”President of Senegal: Too Many Journalists,” “Press Freedom Advocates Protest,”  ”Protest Turns [...]

  11. Charles Says:

    Quote “Later on Friday, NABJ hosted a fund-raising dinner for Wade that was paid for by the Senegalese government, Ciara said” Unquote

    What is not acceptable and shows the desaster we are facing, is that for a poor country like Sénégal, where 90% of people live with less than one dollar a day, the President is travelling arround the world speeaking for non-sense and spreading the money of the people. PResident Wade is not travelling with is onw money. But the state’s budget.

    Young men and women are fleeing from agricultural areas because they have nothing to eat and they have no hope for the future because of the poor and dramatic agricultural policy implemented by President Wade.

    Young men are fleeing from Senegal to Spain in fiching boats, because they have no hope for their own country since the president Wade started to show his poor leadership and organizing large scale corruption in our society. The man Wade who had nothing in year 2000 has organized the corruption at the State level by introducing his own son Karim whose job is to detect the investors who need to give him part of they investment if they want to invest in Senegal.

    Every one saw Karim Wade on TV flying from one African country to another whith the Emir of Dubai, to visit corrupted presidents to negotiate contract for Dubai Ports World and Jafza.

    People and organisations who are receiving such a man like Wade have to think about Mobutu. I have to mention that the actual Senegalese minister of Internal Affairs was a former security adviser of late President Mobutu. So it will a be shame in few year to find out that you have invited a dictator and a tyrant thinking that you did it for a democrat.

    In conclusion, Unity leaders, should know that the dinner paid by the senegalese government is hardly needed by the senegalese people who are starving, by hospitals where people are dying for the lack of medecines, by schools with a high percentage of deperdition etc… This list can fill a whole book.

  12. bintou seydi Says:

    I would like to inform the American public on the behavior of some journalists of Senegal. As a PDF activists since the days of the studnet strike, I have observed their behavior. The practice of some journalists of taking money to do a story distorts the news. If they do not get money they want, they will not write the story or write it very negatively. Also many use internet blogs under several different names to create an impression of support for their view. Before the last Presidential elections these disgruntled journalists gave the impression of President Wade being very unpopular and in danger of not winning. Yet he won overwhelmingly in almost all areas as ordinary people pay them little attention. There are some Senegalese journalists who are very professional but unfortunately the actions of those who disrupted the UNITY meeting give Senegalese journalists a childish reputation and do nothing to help strengthen the professionalism of the journalists in Senegal.

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