Attitude of the government toward the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS). [SEN5750]

Senegal held its last federal election on 28 February 1988. President Abdou Diouf's Socialist Party won 77 percent while the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) took 21 percent. According to a report in The Manchester Guardian on 13 March 1988, "foreign observers estimate[d] that Wade and his party [had] a following of about a quarter of the population." A 1 March article in The Chicago Tribune indicates that there was violence during the election campaign involving clashes between police and opposition supporters. On election day, police fired on PDS supporters who were throwing stones. [ "Post-Voting Riots Erupt in Senegal," The Chicago Tribune, 1 March 1988, p. 8; Jean de la Gueriviere, "Gaol for the Loser After a `Rough Stuff' Senegal Election," The Manchester Guardian Weekly, 13 March 1988, p. 14.]

Nevertheless, on the following day the PDS claimed that the election had been rigged, a claim it reiterated on 1 March in a communique issued in Paris. A demonstration organized in front of PDS headquarters on 29 February turned into a riot and the government declared a state of emergency. [ Simon Clarke, "Senegal Wrestles To Keep Its Democratic Reputation," The Financial Times [London], 16 March 1988, p. 3; "Senegal Vote a `Masquerade' - Opposition Says," Reuters, 1 March 1988.]

A number of PDS officials, including Wade, the party spokesman Ousmane Gome, and a PDS congressional deputy, Boubacar Sall, were arrested. The state of emergency included a 9PM to 6AM curfew, and allowed police to detain people for up to two months without charge. [ De la Gueriviere, "Gaol for the Loser"; Clarke, "Senegal Wrestles To Keep Its Democratic Reputation"; Simon Clarke, "Senegal Ponders Causes of Riots," The Financial Times [London], 2 March 1988, p. 3; "Post Election Troubles in Senegal," Defense and Foreign Affairs Weekly, 14 March 1988, p. 5.]

Wade and seven other PDS members were tried in April 1988, "charged with inciting riots," after the February elections. According to the Europa Year Book, Wade received a one-year suspended prison term in May, while his co-defendants were acquitted. Also in May, the President announced an amnesty for all those jailed after the February election. Wade and President Diouf engaged in talks throughout the summer of 1988. [ Europa World Year Book 1989 (London: Europa Publications Ltd., 1989), p. 2229; Michael Phillips, "Election Fraud Charges Bring Senegal Democracy Under Scrutiny," The Christian Science Monitor, 9 May 1988, p. 9.]

More recently, according to Reuters, on 15 February 1990, the editor of the PDS weekly, Sopi, was sentenced to 6 months in jail "for publishing false news." He had reportedly reiterated the party's view regarding the fairness of the previous year's election. In mid-March, he remained free pending appeal. Another leading PDS politician sentenced to 3 months in jail for an editorial he wrote in Sopi. [ "Opposition Journalist Loses Court Appeal in Senegal," Reuters, 12 March 1990; "Senegal Opposition Leader Sentenced Over Newspaper Editorial," Television du Senegal [Dakar], (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts), 19 February 1990, p. ME/0692/B/1.]

A March 1988 article indicates that the Senegalese press is generally free. According to the Associated Press report, the press, "regularly lampoons the government and even pokes fun at Diouf without fear of reprisal." [ Larry James, "Election Violence Shakes Senegalese Democracy," Associated Press, 4 March 1988.]