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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Senegal - Will Wade make a difference?
After more than 20 years in power one of the grand old men of African politics has been pushed from the podium of power. Senegal's President Abdou Diouf has been defeated by his long-time opponent Abdoulaye Wade.
But under Abdou Diouf the country has been one of the most stable in Africa with, outside Casamance, a remarkable lack of inter-ethnic tension.
Can Wade cure Senegal's ills? Are the causes of Senegal's problems beyond his control? Is there a risk that in trying to address those problems he might cause others to arise? Send us your views.
I am very proud of the Senegalese for proving to all cynics that Africans are capable of ousting a government by the ballot and that democracy can indeed work in Africa. The Senegalese have proven to the entire African continent that there is a better route out there other than the military. We cannot continue to have military coups as the only way to effect change in African governments. We cannot let soldiers take power and conduct so-called elections a few years down the road to legitimise themselves. We cannot let African politicians tell us that democracy is an alien concept.
Lamin Sanneh, Gambian living in USA
Wade may not be able to cure all Senegal's problems but he can sure cure some of them. After 20 years of fixed elections there would have been civil war.
I only hope that this will be a new beginning for West Africa, and that Charles Taylor, of Liberia, will take a lesson from Abdou Diouf, when Democracy returns to that country....
I congratulate the new president. Again an African country is making their way to the real democracy. The former president showed a good example to the African leader that there is time to lead a country and there is time to leave the power for others. This is something very rare in Africa but we are making progress
Soya Djigue, Malaysian living in the US
The potential for Wade has for making a difference is limited. Senegal is a resource poor country and like all African countries, lacks viable industry. So the expectations of its nationals, particularly the youth may fall far beyond its intrinsic capabilities for sustainable development. In addition prospect for radical change will be hindered by the support Wade had from dissidents of Diouf party. Those tenors will defend a certain status quo.
Congratulations to all the people of Senegal. The compass turns now to other dictators like Paul Biya of Cameroon and other francophone African nations. May the French exercise restraint when the focus of attention turns to these yet undemocratic African states.
The fact the Abdou Diouf accepted a defeat knowing hat he could, like many present-day African leaders do, cheat the election and stayed in power was a watershed in African politics. To me whether the new president is better
than Abdou is not the point.
As an African, one cannot but take some pride in the fact that in an African country, the transfer of power has not been by the power of the gun, but by that of the ballot box. It is my genuine hope that what is today an African luxury will in time become the norm. My congratulations to the new president, and best wishes for the retiring one. God bless Africa.
Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng, Ghanaian [living in the UK]
As much as we congratulate Mr Wade for finally
winning the presidency in Senegal. The incumbent,
Mr Diouf also deserves credit for accepting the will
of the Senegalese electorate. Cynics may wonder if
Diouf and his party are now tired after four decades
of invariably difficult rule.
As one who visited Senegal in 1994, I'm proud that the current president has graciously bowed to the recent election results. That is unheard of in most parts of Africa, where most of our leaders believe that they own the country, rather than having to serve at the will of the people.
Hopefully, the Senegalese example, while only few and far in between, could go a long ways in educating other African leaders, especially those in Liberia, Kenya, Namibia, Ivory Coast and elsewhere, that we too, can have ex-presidents retiring and living in our midst, and not having to flee the country with armed men in pursuit, or be killed.
Alvin Peabody, Liberia
I Congrulate Senegal and its people for becoming the source of fresh air in Africa. This raises the ideals and dreams of many Africans, who almost gave up on running a democratic elections in Africa. This election regained and raised my aspiration.
After all there is hope in Africa.
Thank you and congratulate you on your election and I wish you success.
Despite all the remarkable and unprecedented result of the Senegalese election, I'm still sceptical about the African democracy because of the poverty, illeteracy, ethnicity and corruption.
One would hope he does. After all, that was why all and sundry drummed up unprecedented support for Abdou Diouf's removal after twenty years of lacklustre economic performance coupled with other internal crisis. The newly minted President Wade better prove his critics wrong, least he would also go down poorly in the annals of history as yet another disappointment. Meanwhile, we him and his new team the best of luck in the mammoth task that lie ahead.
OB Silla, Gambian in USA
It is a remarkable turn of events to actually watch this peaceful hand-over of power from Diouf to Wade. Thanks BBC for putting this news on the WWW.
It disgusts me to see some people on this "Talking Point", congratulating Mr. Diouf for having "courage to relinquish power" after so many years of power. The real reason these authoritarian's are giving up power is not, I repeat, any "courage" but rather fear of a revolution, or a military coup. In any case, Diouf was not born to rule so no need in congratulating him for giving up ruling.
Kolo Silue, Ivory Coast
I think he going to make a change, but
I must first of all congratulate the out going
President for behaving so mature.
What every developing nation needs to succeed
is a good law and fear of the law.
If he can touch that goal the Senegal's prosperity is at hand.
Senegal started facing the high incidence of high unemployment rate during the last ten years of Diouf. Now that Wade has been given the chance I am pretty sure he will perform well. My only advice to the Senegalese people is that they should not expect a miracle to be performed within weeks. Thus for the very fact that there is a change there should be a hope for a brighter future.
Sylvester Amara Lamin, Sierra Leonean studying in New Zealand
I hope that Mr Wade will make a difference. But living in a country where the Head of State is over the age of 70. I begin to shudder. Let's wait and see and I hope that he does not want to cling to power like all our leaders of his age.
I would like to congratulate the persistency of Mr. Wade in finally being victorious in this battle. I personally think Diouf was a
greedy and power conscious individual. I hope you won't let the people of Senegal down.
My only doubt is the ability of Mr. Wade to govern as he is about 74 years and secondly come the end of his term if he will be willing to hand over to younger hands.
I thank the Senegalese people for putting democracy on road in Africa. From South Africa to Senegal and it will be across the continent in this century. I commend the ex-president for accepting realities. He loves his country, and he wants everybody to feel good.
I am not even a politician, but I can not help but be proud of the great example the leaders and the people of Senegal would be to the rest of Africa. I certainly hope that Mr. Wade does not disappoint the people of Senegal.
It is premature to ask this question if Mr Wade can be successful? What is important is the peaceful change after 40 years of one-party ruling. The entire world particularly the African people are proud of Senegal, Mr. Wade and Mr. Diouf and we congratulate them. We call upon the world community particularly the Western democracies, if they are real in their commitment to help Africa, to promote those types of peaceful changes. It is only in Africa that one person can only know one or two leaders in his whole life. Solving Africa's problems begin by implementing and promoting genuine democracy not just the label of it.
Dr. Mamadou Diallo, Rep. of Guinea, living in USA
I would like to answer my brother, Pa Musa Jallow. You are saying that after all the problems that Diouf brought us that he has to be congratulated? May I remind you that if Wade asked the military to intervene, it was because Diouf gave him all the right in the world to doubt his sincerity after the several times he ignored the verdict of the people. Didn't he put Wade in prison in 1988, bring corruption and put our country in an insecure position in all levels? Certainly this victory is not just Wade's victory but the victory of all Senegalese who recognise Wade as someone who can build the base that we need and who fought 26 years to get where he is.
I must admit that up to the moment of President Abdou Diouf conceding victory to Wade, I remained supportive of Diouf. To me, Wade was a scary prospect, at 74, he had achieved everything one could desire in life, but the Presidency of Senegal. His comments have been very negative and inflammatory, irresponsible if not treasonous. Wade repeatedly supported military coups and insurgencies in the Sub region and invited the Senegalese military to intervene and openly urged people to demonstrate and reject any other outcome but his victory in this election. Yet, his new tone and his promise to change the Senegalese Constitution reduce the presidential term to 5 years from 7 and limit it to 2 terms and also to step down after 1 term encourages me. Finally I express my pride in seeing another African country achieve a peaceful change and wish president-elect Wade and the Senegalese people the best in 2000.
Pa Musa Jallow, The Gambia
I think the last time such a discussion took place about a change in African national leadership concern was Nigeria. Great hopes for 'democracy' were expressed in the media. Since then, Christians and Muslims in the country have inaugurated a murderous war against one another.
Oil and money continue to flow, however--out of the country.
Time for another brand-new dictator. Abdoulaye Wade in Senegal should take note.
Let me begin by congratulating Senegal's new president and at the same time, pay tribute to Ex-president Diouf for the bold steps taken by accepting defeat. This is really great and I hope African presidents will draw lessons from this since many would do all they could not to set a limit term to the presidency once they come to power. This shows how selfish and greedy they are. Well, now that the people of Senegal have spoken, I think they need to give their new leader time to really turn things round and I believe they know the road to recovery may not be all that smooth. To sum up, I am really impressed by the Senegalese people and hope many countries on the continent will follow suit. Long live Africa and may god bless her people.
Ebrima Wadda, Gambia
The election of Abdoulaye Wade as the next President of Senegal was by far the biggest event in that country since its independence from France, forty years ago.
For those of us Senegalese who were forced to leave our country because of economic hardship, lack of jobs and uncertain future, the end of Diouf's regime fills us with hope of a better future for our beloved country.
However, it's important to keep in mind that in spite of all the willingness shown by the new President to tackle economic difficulties Senegal is facing, this country can only be brought back to its feet by working hard and engaging profound reforms.
I congratulate the new president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade and the people of Senegal. What arrived at Senegal is completely normal. Africa is reaching a new phase of its history. After slavery, Colonisation, the decolonisation, Africa is taking its destiny in hand gradually. I hope especially that the Western countries like France and the US ones that support the dictatorship in Africa, will not put transversely. Cameroon will come after Senegal
I should like to congratulate Abdoulaye Wade for his victory in the elections and also pay tribute to Abdou Diorf's courage in relinquishing power. It is my hope that lessons would be learnt by other presidents in the region. Although Abdou Diorf hasn't lived to the overall expectations of the Senegalese people, his acceptance of defeat in a free and fair election will undoubtedly register his name in the annals of history of the West African region. It is my hope that the new President will focus his attention to the needs and aspirations of the people who made him what he is. Long live Africa!
Cherno Bah, UK
Wade had been in the opposition for a long time, since 1974. He was Africa's longest serving opposition leader and is Africa's epitome of a loyal opposition.
He may not turn around the economy overnight, but he would certainly avoid taking for granted the Senegalese people's good will by keeping alive Senegal's democratic tradition and stability which may in the long-term prove to be beneficial for economic growth and development.
The reconstruction of Senegal will not be done only by Wade perse, but it will be the concerted effort of all Senegalese in this case a "fresh blood". A democratic change is in itself a greater proportion of the cure of the ills of that country. I know economic turn around will not be immediately, but a social and political satisfaction have been achieved because it was majority that spoke and I also hope they will be tolerant whilst the new regime find solution to the economic problem by the old government of Abdou Diorf. Thus even though there will not be any magic solution to the economic problem of Senegal, the democratic change will work itself out to heal the wounds of 19 years of despotic regime.
Osei-Ntiri Kwabena, Ghana
If the new rulers of Senegal work hand in hand steadfastly and adhere to genuine norms of democracy and
rule of law in the interest of the Senegalese people who voted them in office to see their dream of change achieved,
certainly everything then will be alright God willing.
There are no people in this world who do not aspire to freedom of speech and movement. And certainly the victory of Wade is the expression of a people, which can be translated to many societies in Africa, aspiring to democracy. There are many challenges that the new government faces - unemployment, corruption, health, and so on, as well as to find out what the French army is still doing in Senegal forty years after independence. I'm sure that the Senegalese people don't expect miracles from Wade. He is the alternative we wanted, expressed above all by many of the younger generation who feel the need to change the rusty, obsolete motors of Senegal, like needs to happen in many countries in Africa.
Elhage Yade, Senegal
Chance and time should be given to anyone to prove him or herself. Let wait and see, what he is capable of doing for Senegal. He has fought for a long time to get there and I don't think that accountability and hard work can escape him. I am confident that the majority of Senegalese people knew whom to choose to be their leader for the country's positive future.
Though it's great to see the mighty Diouf fall, Wade is no Mandela, even if he's been in prison. He's been bought out and cajoled before. But who knows maybe "Sopi" has come to Senegal at last, I mean, why be sober at a time like this!
I congratulate the new president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, for the new course he has channelled not only for the Modern Senegal, but for Africans as well. I do congratulate Abdou Diouf, for having the courage to relinquish power. Can Wade Cure Senegal's ills ? - The battle for the "Modern Senegal", (of which Wade is spearheading) has just begun. General Election is a means, not the ends. The nation's woes have been vested for so long under the carpet of the former leader. I hope the people of Senegal remain courageous, when the road to "Parliamentary Democracy" gets tougher, and embrace "democracy" as a value.
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria
In any other part of the world, South East Asia excluded, elections usually help or make some change. In Africa the readable history unfortunately gives tools to conclude: Elections do not change anything or make things only worse on longer term. We are not short of evidence or examples.
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