Senegal. According to countryaah, nine Senegalese men were sentenced in January to each eight years in prison for homosexuality, which is banned in Senegal. The men, including the chairman of an organization that combats HIV/AIDS, were convicted of “unnatural homosexual acts” and of membership in a criminal organization. The latter was aimed at the HIV/AIDS organization. In April, the men were acquitted by an appellate court for lack of evidence, which was welcomed by, among others, the UN agency UNAIDS, which believes that the criminalization of homosexuals prevents HIV fighting in the country.
The local and regional elections on March 22 became a major setback for the government parties that lost power in the capital Dakar and in several other major cities. At the same time, the opposition was moving forward. President Abdoulaye Wade’s son, Karim Wade, ran for election for the first time and ran for mayor post in Dakar but lost. One month after the elections, Prime Minister Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré resigned. He was succeeded by Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye of the ruling Senegal Democratic Party (PDS), who was previously Minister of Fisheries. When the government was reformed, the son of President Karim Wade was appointed Minister of International Cooperation and Infrastructure, among others. In June, Parliament approved a bill aimed at creating a new post as Vice President. The Vice President shall be appointed by the President. This fueled previous suspicions from opposition and political analysts that the 83-year-old president, who will be leaving his post in 2012, is preparing for his son Karim Wade to take over as president. In August, the ruling party PDS changed its name to PDS-Liberál. Several judges considered it a way for the president and party leader Wade to increase his control over the party.
New fighting broke out in August between separatists from the Casamance Democratic Forces (MFDC) movement and government forces in the Casamance region of southern Senegal, near the border with Guinea-Bissau. Two people were killed. Some of the MFDC rebels, despite a peace agreement in 2004, continued their fight for an independent Casamance that began in 1982. The movement claims that the government is neglecting the region, which is Senegal’s grain store and a tourist destination despite the occasional flare-up. In October, six government soldiers were killed in an attack in Casamance for which the military accused the MFDC.
In October, a corruption scandal was revealed in which the government was accused of trying to bribe the International Monetary Fund representative in Senegal. When the IMF employee completed his assignment after three years, he received close to $ 200,000 from the Prime Minister. The Spanish official did not open the package until he was on his way home and then handed the money over to Senegal’s ambassador to Spain. The Prime Minister denied corruption and claimed that the money was a parting gift, in accordance with African tradition.
The number of Senegalese girls subjected to rape has increased significantly. In December, the Ministry of Justice therefore proposed that it should be easier to report rapes to children. According to official statistics, 450 rapes were reported against girls in 2007. The following year the number had increased to 600. Most abuses occur in the home, but many girls are raped by teachers in schools. The parents often find it shameful and avoid reporting the crimes, which is why the Ministry of Justice also wants organizations approved by the state to be able to report police rapes so that investigations are done. The Ministry proposes stricter penalties for rapists and also wants parents who fail to report police rapes to be punished with imprisonment.
A new statue in the capital, Dakar, which when completed in 2010 will be larger than the Statue of Liberty in New York, caused protests and religious conflicts in December. It started with imams criticizing the monument “African Renaissance” for being an expression of idolatry. The statue, built by North Korea in monumental style at President Wade’s initiative, depicts a very similar man carrying a woman and a child. The Imams’ campaign made the president look like the monument to Jesus statues in churches, which in turn humiliated Christians who walked out on the streets and protested. Many were also critical of the cost of the monument: $ 27 million. President Wade defended himself with the statue becoming a tourist magnet. Entry was planned and the president himself would keep a third of the revenue because he says he spent his own funds for the construction. The rest would go to the state.