Senegal’s president is facing the most serious political unrest of his career just months before seeking re-election to a third term.
It has been getting unusually hot in the normally stable and democratic Senegal. In the shadow of the Arab uprisings, recent riots across this small West African country have seen thousands of angry demonstrators take to the streets ransacking government buildings and defacing public property.
Riots finally escalated to unprecedented levels on June 23rd. Pictures Gallery of the clashes
But while the 12 million people in Senegal are fed-up and ready for change, a full-scale revolution in the likes of an ‘African Spring’ has yet to take hold.
The protests are in reaction to incessant power cuts, escalating food prices, 50 percent unemployment and a recent attempt by Senegal’s 85-year old President, Abdoulaye Wade, to amend the constitution to allow him a third run at next year’s national elections.
Recent Senegalese political social events have spawned the “Y’en a marre” (or “had enough”) collective, comprising members of civil society, journalists and at, its heart, a whole bunch of rappers. The movement was launched in January 2011, and has upset the political balance in Senegal with some new messages. Where these apprentice politicians really shine out, though, is in their music.
The turning point was on 19 March this year. Senegal was celebrating the ten-year anniversary of President Abdoulaye Wade and the first political power change since independence. Yet this was no ordinary anniversary – it was marked by a huge gathering denouncing the “stolen elections”. The large anti-Wade happening was an occasion for the “Y’en a marre” collective to make a dramatic entry onto the Senegalese political scene.
“The first thing we did was to explain that we don’t want what happened in Egypt or Tunisia to happen here,” said Alioune Sane, one of the group’s founding members. “We don’t want people immolating themselves, and we don’t want young people going into the street to burn things down. We tell them it’s not the government that would suffer by doing this, but us, the citizens. People need to fight at the ballot box.”
So the group is encouraging over one million unregistered voters to sign up.
Senegal has often been deemed a model of democracy in a region riddled with civil wars and political upheavals.
When President Wade took power in 2000, it was under the slogan Sopi, or ‘change’. The Senegalese had been living under 40-years of socialist rule and were optimistic that Wade’s Democratic Party would revitalize a weak economy and strained social sector.
But these hopes fell short.
Rather than tackling the everyday, endemic problems, Wade found different priorities. In 2010 alone he spent over $27 million on an African Renaissance statue that towers over Dakar and $10.5 million on the World Festival of Black Culture.
Wade also installed his son, Karim, as head of several ministries. But the final straw for the Senegalese came last month. President Wade tried to make constitutional changes that would drop the percentage of votes needed to win elections from 50 percent to 25 percent and create a new vice president post that many suspected would be passed down to Karim.
While social media played an integral role in rallying support in the North African uprisings, in Senegal Facebook and Twitter have, so far, played a less prominent role. That’s in large part because the technology hasn’t really caught hold.
About 60 percent of Y’en a marre members live outside Senegal. Many of those living in the country have been arrested for speaking out against the government, yet the group continues to advocate for non-violence.
But, as group members say, if President Wade succeeds in changing the constitution so he can run for a third term next February anything can happen.
OccupySenegal emerged on january 2012, on month before the elections, and is not a centralized movement but an open group callng for action, they do have an assembly but it is loose. Most of them are in France, Senegal, England Spain and Italy. Both occupyers combined a total of 7000 members online when YAM has around 26,000 members.
They took their distances from YAM accused to be vertical, reformist and payed by the government, people still follow yam but they do not have that credibility anymore.
The M23 movement is behind everything now, they are not well structured but are formed by political parties, unions and civile liberty groups so they are more powerful and that's why they are winning the fight now. Like a big block against Wade, M23 comprised all the opposition parties, unions and civile liberty groups.
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Pictures: Album Take The Square
Senegal is fighting to save their democracy! (and the media do not tell nothing or little and bad)
Following 40 years in which the African country has been a model democracy without political violence, Senegal’s president Abdoulaye Wade (85 years old and with 12 years in power) is running for a third term of office. This goes against various democratic mechanisms including the constitution that allows a maximum of two terms.
New action plan against the candidacy of Wade: “Y’en a marre” launched Operation “Fanane to the Obelisk”
Faced with the refusal of Abdoulaye Wade to abandon his candidacy, youth Movement “Y’en a marre” go to the next level. Fadel Barro and Co. will now camp in the place of the Obelisk and call the Senegalese to do the same from Today.
Riots broke out all around Dakar, a young man of twenty years was shot dead during the confrontation with the police
The demonstrations started last Friday in the Senegalese capital goes crescendo and have now reached the suburbs of Dakar and the city of Rufisque. Left early in the downtown Dakar, young faithful tijaniya, supported by the youth of M23, refused to leave after the statement of the marabout, determined to defy the police.
Riots then broke out all around the zawiya until the front of the Interior Ministry and was then propagated up to the office of Medina and Tilène market.
"Senegal is fighting to save their democracy! (and the media do not tell nothing or little and bad)"