Forgotten World (169): Senegal

The west African state of Senegal – a country of 13 million which surrounds The Gambia – has been held up as one of Africa’s model democracies. It has an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule and, although poverty is widespread and unemployment is high, one of the region’s more stable economies.
The 40-year rule of Senegal’s Socialist Party came to a peaceful end in elections in 2000, which were hailed as a rare democratic power transfer on a continent plagued by coups, conflict and election fraud. Abdoulaye Wade took office and won a second term in February 2007.
A long-running, low-level separatist war in the southern Casamance region has claimed hundreds of lives. The conflict broke out over claims by the region’s people that they were being marginalised by the Wolof, Senegal’s main ethnic group. However, the government and rebels signed a peace pact at the end of 2004, raising hopes for reconciliation.


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