Senegal

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Senegal is a country in the western most part of continental Africa.


Territory: 196,000 sq. kilometers or slightly smaller than South Dakota; 13% arable. Resources: Fishing, iron ore and phosphates.

Population: almost 11 million, growing at a brisk 2.5% per year; infant mortality rate of 56/1000; 40% literacy; PPP is $1,500.

Ethnic Groups:

Wolof 43.3%
Pular 23.8%
Serer 14.7%
Jola 3.7%
Mandinka 3%
Soninke 1.1%
European and Lebanese 1%
other 9.4%

Religion:

Muslim 94%
Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic)
indigenous beliefs 1%

Languages:

French (official)
Wolof

Political History

• From 2nd to 11th c.s part of the loose Empire of Ghana. • Islamization began in the 13th c under the Almorovid Dynasty in Morocco, Spain. • Djolof Empire in Senegal from the 13th and 14thc.s • Part of the Malian Empire in the 15th c. • Portugese establish trading posts in the 15th c.; slave trade begins in the 16th c. • Dutch establish a colony on Goree island in 1607 • French establish a colony in St. Louis in 1626 • Dutch, English and French fight over Goree island in the 17th c. • Under the 1814 Treaty of Paris, France gets all of Senegal. In 1815 France abolishes the slave trade and in 1848 abolishes slavery itself. • 1960 Senegal becomes independent of France as part of the Federation of Mali and in that same year becomes independent of Mali • 1960 Leopold Senghor becomes President and then rules as a popular though somewhat authoritarian • mid 1970s democratization • 1983 Casamance Rebellion • 2001 New Constitution

Government

New Constitution in 2001.

Unitary, hybrid presidential-parliamentary system: President elected by popular vote to 5 year term. 11 administrative districts.

President: President Abdoulaye Wade (since 1 April 2000) elected by popular vote for a five-year term under new constitution; election last held 27 February and 19 March 2000 (next to be held 27 February 2005). election results: voting in the second round of voting was Abdoulaye Wade (PDS) 58.49%, Abdou Diouf (PS) 41.51%

Prime Minister: Macky SALL (since 21 April 2004) Unicameral National Assembly of 120 seats Last held on April 29th 2001 (next to be held NA 2006) election results: SOPI Coalition 89, AFP 11, PS 10, other 10

Major Political Parties: • Senegalese Democratic Party or PDS [Abdoulaye Wade] leads the SOPI coalition. • National Democratic Rally or RND [Madier Diouf]


Casamance Rebellion

Separated from the rest of Senegal by the Gambia The Casamance has a large population of the Diola ethnic group, which is predominantly Christian and Animist.

Opting for direct dialogue with the separatists, Wade met with longtime MFDC leader Abbe Augustin Diamacoune Senghor in May 2003. No general ceasefire as yet. Wade did announce major a US$315 million programme to rebuild the battered infrastructure of Casamance: to repair damaged villages, de-mine the countryside and replace the Joola, a large ferry which plied between Dakar and Ziguinchor, but which sank in September 2002, causing the deaths of 1,800 people. Earlier under former president Abdou Diouf, Senegal found an unexpected ally in Casamance’s southern neighbour Guinea-Bissau, which had previously served as a safe haven for separatist fighters. Kumba Yala was elected president of Guinea-Bissau in 2000 and put an end to the tolerance of the Casamance separatists shown by his predecessors. He sent in the army to chase them out of their bases on the Guinean side of the border.

The main line of fracture among the MFDC rebels is between the political wing, which is itself split into two rival factions, and the military wing known as ”Atika”, which means ”fighter” in Diola. The MFDC's historic leader, Diamacoune Senghor, a former Roman Catholic priest is being challenged by Jean-Marie François Biagui, who was exiled in France working for the movement’s external wing, but who returned to Senegal last year and is now based in Dakar for control of the political wing. The military wing consists of several hundred guerrillas.

Senegalese army is refusing to begin de-mining operations until a negotiated ceasefire is ends fighting and the rebels hand in their arms. Handicap International (HI), an NGO monitoring landmines in the region, said 15 people were injured by land mines during the first 10 months of this year. That represents a sharp drom from 198 in 1998, when the armed conflict was at its height. Many of the mines were planted by the separatists near villages, but the guerrillas never kept track of their location. The Senegalese army has denied laying any anti-personnel mines of its own. The government signed and ratified an international treaty banning the use of landmines in 1998.

Thousands of people displaced by the conflict are still waiting for an end to the conflict before returning home. Many have sought refuge in nearby towns and according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, 7,000 have sought shelter in Guinea-Bissau. It has also registered 500 refugees from the Casamance in Gambia.


External Links

  • Oneworld.net Country Guides: Senegal
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