Pambazuka News

Senegal: Violent uprising in Dakar

Human rights activist Alioune Tine seriously wounded

Tidiane Kassé, Yellitaare

2011-06-23, Issue 536

cc Seneweb
'There is a violent uprising happening now here. In the city center of Dakar, in the suburbs and in the provincial areas. A lot of demonstrations and riots are happening,' writes Tidiane Kassé, as Senegalese people take to the streets to oppose a new law being discussed in parliament, which would allow a presidential candidate to take power with just 25% of the vote. Meanwhile, as a Yellitaare statement calls on the Senegalese government to ensure the safety of human rights activist Alioune Tine, reports from Dakar suggest that Tine is 'seriously wounded', after being hit on the head by attackers alleged to be the body guards of a minister close to President Abdoulaye Wade.

Alioune Tine is seriously wounded. He is now in the emergency section at the hospital. He was hit on his head. The guys who attacked him are supposed to be the body guards of a minister close to Abdoulaye Wade.

There is a violent uprising happening now here. In the city center of Dakar, in the suburbs and in the provincial areas. A lot of demonstrations and riots are happening.
As you may know, the people are opposed to a law the Members of Parliament are now discussing. If the pass it, it will change all the electoral process. It states that, for the next election in february, people will vote for a president and a vice-president. And one can win with 25% of the voters. This means Abdoulaye Wade will win without no doubt.

Political leaders and civil society organisations called for demonstrations today. A lot of people gathered in front of the National Assembly this morning and violence started there.

Now you have fire in the streets, some ministers houses are in fire, according to news in the radio some people have been shot.

The council of ministers met this morning and it seems that Abdoulaye Wade have change some points of the law. For example, the 25% level for a victory. But I don't think it will be enough to stop the uprising.



With great concern, Yellitaare informs the national and international community of acts of harassment, persecution and psychological aggression against Mr Alioune Tine, the head of the Senegalese-based RADDHO rights group.

On Thursday, Senegal's ruling party changed the constitution to lower the percentage of votes a candidate needs to win an election and to create the office of vice president. The changes are being introduced just eight months ahead of the 2012 national election, prompting Dr Alioune Tine and the civil society leaders to deride the proposal as a “constitutional coup.” They said the amendment would favor incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade and his unpopular son. He has given an increasing share of power to his eldest child, Karim Wade, and critics claim the creation of the VP post would be a way to ensure his succession.

At 85, Wade is Africa's second oldest head of state and his bid for an extraconstitutional third term has been heavily contested.

In addition, the new law would allow Wade to be re-elected with just 25 percent of Senegal's approximately 5 million registered voters. This is significantly lower than the more than 50 percent of votes cast that the constitution currently requires to avoid a runoff.

In the 2007 election, Wade won a second term with around 1.9 million votes. He is expected to receive less in the 2012 contest due to growing discontent over frequent power cuts, high unemployment and the spiraling cost of living in Senegal. The new rule would mean Wade could win with just 1.2 million votes, if the number of registered voters stays the same.

On Saturday, at a press conference with representatives of other human rights groups, Dr Alioune Tine called for a “national, regional and international” campaign against the move. He said the opposition campaign would be dubbed: “Don't Touch my Constitution.”

Earlier Tuesday, the Senegalese Prime Minister, Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye, publicly attacked and threatened Dr Tine. There is today a real intention to kill Alioune Tine, the Voice of the Voiceless.

Since 2000, Alioune Tine have been subjected to severe harassment by the National Intelligence and Security Services offices in Dakar/Senegal, in the course of sessions of interrogation related to his activities for the defense of human rights. He has been arrested, interrogated and then released several times.
During the night of November 26 to 27, 2006, Mr. Alioune Tine, received three different phone calls by a person who introduced himself as Mr. X. This person urged Mr. Tine to cease his activities and “advised” him to “think a bit more about himself, his family and his children”.

In an increasingly tense pre-electoral context, these threats are indicative of the degradation of fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of expression, in Senegal.

Therefore, We request that the national and international community urge the Senegalese government to:

- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Alioune Tine, as well as put an end to any act of harassment against him
- Take immediate measures to provide effective and appropriate protection to
Alioune Tine and his family.
- Carry out its responsibility to guarantee human rights defenders, their
right to carry out their work without unjust restriction and without fear of
reprisal, as is established in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders
as well as the resolutions of the Regional rights instruments signed and
ratified by Senegal

Please direct letters in French or English to:

Me Abdoulaye Wade
Présidence de la République
Avenue Léopold Sédar Senghor
Dakar/ Senegal
Téléphone : 33 880 80 80

Moussa Bocoume
Ph.D Candidate USC
Human Rights Activist
President and Founder of Yellitaare


* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.