Senegal - Political background

Senegal is a functional democracy with a strong presidency, prime minister, and a 120-seat national assembly. The 7 March 1963 Constitution was revised six times between 20 June 1967 and 24 April 1981. It was revised again on 7 January 2001. In the referendum, 94% of those voting approved Wade's revisions to the Constitution including a reduction in the presidential term of office from seven to five years; transfer of some powers from President to Prime Minister; abolition of the Senate; a reduction in the number of National Assembly seats from 140 to 120; and partial proportional representation for the Parliament with 65 seats elected according to single member districts (first past the post) and 55 seats chosen proportionally from party lists. Wade will be allowed to serve a full seven-year mandate before the new term limits go into effect.

Senegal was part of the Confederation of Senegambia, lasting from 1982 to 1989. The treaty called for the integration of security systems, the military, and the economic and monetary systems of Senegal and The Gambia. For a variety of reasons the union failed, and Senegambia never existed beyond the treaty. Since December 1983, Senegal has been unsuccessful in resolving a separatist insurgency in the southern Casamance region. The conflict has at times involved neighbors Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia. In 1989, Senegal found itself briefly at war with Mauritania over border and resource issues, and in 1998 Senegal sent troops in support of Guinea-Bissau's now-exiled President Vieira.

Free and fair elections in February–March 2000 ended 40 years of Parti Socialiste Sénégalais (PS—Senegalese Socialist Party) rule, producing the first change of government in Senegal's history since independence. In legislative elections held on 29 April 2001, Wade's Parti Démocratique Sénégalais (PDS—Senegalese Democratic Party) won 89 seats, the Alliance des forces de progrès (AFP—Alliance of the Forces for Progress) 11 seats, and the former ruling PS took 10 seats.

In the municipal and local elections 12 May 2002, Wade's coalition, the Convergence des actions autour du Président en perspective du 21ème siècle (CAP 21) captured a majority of the 433 posts. The opposition joined forces under the Cadre Permanent de Concertation (CPC), which included the Parti de l'indépendence et Travail (PIT), the Parti Socialiste (PS), the Union pour le Renouveau Démocratique (URD) and Alliance des Forces de Progrès (AFP). They attacked the government for failing to privatize the electric utility, for bungling groundnut sector reforms, and for mishandling relations with unions and multi-lateral lending institutions.

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