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Senegal

Yearbook 1998

Senegal. Allegations of electoral fraud and other irregularities came before the parliamentary elections on May 24. According to Countryaah, the ruling Socialist Party Parti socialiste sénégalais (PS) received just over half the votes, giving 93 of the 140 seats. The Party Democratique Sénégalais (PDS) again became the largest opposition party with 23 seats despite a sharp decline, while the new party Union pour le renoveau démocratique (URD), formed by an outbreak from PS, received eleven seats. The turnout was only 39%.

1998 Senegal

That PS made a worse choice than expected was due to, among other things, on the fact that the party no longer received official support from Senegal's religious fraternity and that the party's austerity policy had caused severe dissatisfaction among public servants, who traditionally supported the party. Brutal police interventions against student demonstrations in the weeks before the election were considered to have reduced support among young voters.

In July, the government resigned with Prime Minister Abdou Diouf in the lead. He was replaced by former Finance Minister Mamadou Lamine.

The unrest in the province of Casamance in the south continued during the year. In February, Amnesty International accused both the government army and the separatist movement Mouvement des Forces Democratique de la Casamance (MFDC) for being guilty of serious abuses against civilians. Before the election, the army carried out a large campaign against the guerrillas and at least 30 rebels were killed. On Election Day, at least six people were killed in the provincial capital of Ziguinchor. Separatists were suspected of being behind the death. However, peace talks seemed to be getting under way with less hardy parts of the MFDC.

In connection with a coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau in June, Senegal sent over 2,000 soldiers to support the government side of the neighboring country. Senegal mainly acted out of fear that a victory for the coup makers would strengthen MFDC's position. The border was closed to refugees from Guinea-Bissau because of concerns that rebels would enter the country.

 
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