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Politics of Senegal

Senegal is a secular republic with a strong presidency, weak legislature, reasonably independent judiciary, and multiple political parties. Senegal is one of the few African states that has never experienced a coup d'etat. As noted above, power was transferred peacefully, if not altogether democratically, from Léopold Senghor to Diouf in 1981, and once again, this time in fully democratic elections, from Abdou Diouf[?] to Abdoulaye Wade[?] in March 2000.

The President is elected by universal adult suffrage to a 5-year term. The unicameral National Assembly has 120 members, who are elected separately from the President. The Socialist Party[?] dominated the National Assembly until April 2001, when in free and fair legislative elections, President Wade's coalition won a majority (89 of 120 seats). The Cour de Cassation[?] (Highest Appeals Court, equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) and the Constitutional Council, the justices of which are named by the President, are the nation's highest tribunals. Senegal is divided into 10 administrative regions, each headed by a governor appointed by and responsible to the President. The law on decentralization, which came into effect in January 1997, distributed significant central government authority to regional assemblies.

Senegal’s principal political party was for 40 years the Socialist Party (PS). Its domination of political life came to an end in March 2000, when Abdoulaye Wade, the leader of the Senegalese Democractic Party[?] (PDS) and leader of the opposition for more than 25 years, won the presidency. Under the terms of the 2001 constitution, future presidents will serve for 5 years and be limited to two terms. Wade was the last President to be elected to a 7-year term.

President Wade has advanced a liberal agenda for Senegal, including privatizations and other market-opening measures. He has a strong interest in raising Senegal’s regional and international profile. The country, nevertheless, has limited means with which to implement ambitious ideas. The liberalization of the economy is proceeding, but at a slow pace. Senegal continues to play a significant role in regional and international organizations. President Wade has made excellent relations with the United States a high priority.

There are presently some 65 political parties, most of which are marginal and little more than platforms for their leaders. The principal political parties, however, constitute a true multiparty, democratic political culture, and they have contributed to one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa, even among all developing countries. A flourishing independent media, largely free from official or informal control, also contributes to the democratic politics of Senegal. The country’s generally tolerant culture, largely free from ethnic or religious tensions, has provided a resilient base for democratic politics.

Country name:

Conventional long form: Republic of Senegal

Conventional short form: Senegal

Local long form: Republique du Senegal

Local short form: Senegal

Data code: SG

Government type: Republic under multiparty democratic rule

Capital: Dakar

Administrative divisions: 10 regions (regions, singular - region); Dakar, Diourbel, Fatick, Kaolack, Kolda, Louga, Saint-Louis, Tambacounda, Thies, Ziguinchor

Independence: 4 April 1960 from France; complete independence was achieved upon dissolution of federation with Mali on 20 August 1960 (The Gambia and Senegal signed an agreement on 12 December 1981 (constituted February 1982) that called for the creation of a loose confederation to be known as Senegambia, but the agreement was dissolved on 30 September 1989)

National holiday: Independence Day, 4 April (1960)

Constitution: 3 March 1963, revised 1991

Legal system: Based on French civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Court; the Council of State audits the government's accounting office; Senegal has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

Chief of state: President Abdoulaye WADE (since NA 2000)

Head of government: Prime Minister Niasse MOUSTAPHA (since NA 2000)

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president

Elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 27 February 2000 (next to be held 27 February 2007); prime minister appointed by the president

Election results: Abdoulaye WADE elected president; percent of vote in the second round of voting - Abdoulaye WADE (PDS) NA%, Abdou DIOUF (PS) NA%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (140 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Elections: last held 24 May 1998 (next to be held NA May 2003)

Election results: percent of vote by party - PS 50%, PDS 19%, UDS-R 13%, And Jef 5%, LD-MPT 4%, CDP 2%, FSD 1%, PDS-R 1%, RND 1%, BGC 1%, PIT 1%, other 2%; seats by party - PS 93, PDS 23, UDS-R 11, And Jef 4, LD-MPT 3, CDP 1, FSD 1, PDS-R 1, RND 1, BGC 1, PIT 1

Judicial branch: under the terms of a reform of the judicial system implemented in 1992, the principal organs of the judiciary are as follows: Constitutional Court; Council of State; Court of Final Appeals or Cour de Cassation; Court of Appeals

Political parties and leaders:

  • African Party for Democracy and Socialism or And Jef (also known as PADS/AJ) [Landing SAVANE, secretary general];
  • African Party of Independence [Majhemout DIOP];
  • Democratic and Patriotic Convention or CDP (also known as Garab-Gi) [Dr. Iba Der THIAM];
  • Democratic League-Labor Party Movement or LD-MPT [Dr. Abdoulaye BATHILY];
  • Front for Socialism and Democracy or FSD [Cheikh Abdoulaye DIEYE];
  • Gainde Centrist Bloc or BGC [Jean-Paul DIAS];
  • Independence and Labor Party or PIT [Amath DANSOKHO];
  • National Democratic Rally or RND [Madier DIOUF];
  • Senegalese Democratic Party or PDS [Abdoulaye WADE];
  • Senegalese Democratic Party-Renewal or PDS-R [Serigne Lamine DIOP, secretary general];
  • Senegalese Democratic Union-Renewal or UDS-R [Mamadou Puritain FALL];
  • Socialist Party or PS [President Abdou DIOUF];
  • Union for Democratic Renewal or URD [Djibo Leyti KA];
  • other small parties

Political pressure groups and leaders: labor; Muslim brotherhoods; students; teachers

International organization participation: ACCT[?], ACP[?], AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, FZ[?], G-15[?], G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, MIPONUH[?], NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTAET, UPU, WADB[?], WAEMU[?], WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Flag description: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), yellow, and red with a small green five-pointed star centered in the yellow band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia

See also : Senegal

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