Senegal. During the year, the conflict between the
government and the separatist movement Mouvement des forces
démocratiques de la Casamance (MFDC) continued in the
country's southern province of Casamance. According to
Countryaah, thousands of
people from the province in September went to neighboring
Gambia for an army offensive in the area. The offensive
targeted the separatists and then a wave of murders and
kidnappings took place in the province.
About 180 people were detained for their supposed
responsibility for the unrest. This included opposition
leaders Abdoulaye Wade and Landing Savané, however, were
found innocent and released in July. The government's
repressive policies were condemned by humanitarian
organizations, the European Parliament and the United States
Wade began negotiations with the government, which led
him to join Diouf's government in March 1995. The president
received clear support from the international financial
institutions as he announced legislative changes aimed at
promoting foreign investment and accelerating privatization.
Despite the support of Paris and Washington, the
government offensives failed to penetrate the Casamance
guerrillas on the defensive. Acc. some observers make the
MFDC's popularity among the youth of Casamance, as well as
the region's geography, impossible for Dakar to achieve a
military victory. Nor did the adoption of a 1996
'regionalization' project for the country appear to be
sufficient to guarantee a political solution to the
After a period of subduing the fighting, new actions by
the MFDC in 1997 led to 2,500 soldiers deployed to the
partisan bases near the border with Guinea-Bissau.
In March, Senegal extended its agreement with the EU for
a further 4-year period. Acc. the deal gets the country
nearly $ 11 million in compensation annually - a 33%
In early 1998, Amnesty International criticized the
"terror" in Casamance. The conflict wiped out the peasant
population and ruined a region that was considered thriving
before the war.
During his visit to Dakar in April 1998, US President
Bill Clinton proposed the formation of a "continental peace
force" to secure peace in Africa.
The March 2000 election was won by Abdoulaye Wade, whose
program was a showdown with the corruption and
inefficiencies of the Socialist ruling party as well as
calls for change. He particularly appealed to the youth most
affected by unemployment. His victory brought an end to 40
years of one-party rule. The creation of new independent
radio stations that monitored the counting of votes was an
essential prerequisite for the election becoming one of the
most peaceful and free in the region.
When he took office in April, Wade appointed another old
opposition politician, Musfafa Niasse, to the post of prime
minister. Despite the president's declaration that his
government would put the resolution of the country's
conflict at the top of the agenda, the same month the
violence escalated in Casamance. This was due to a series of
attacks by the MFDC that fought the conciliatory position
among several of its leaders.