Saturday, December 8, 2012

‘Charles Taylor should have walked free’, Taylor trial judge

Justice El Hadji Malick Sow
New African - December 2012: The Senegalese judge, Justice El Hadji Malick Sow, served as an alternate judge for Trial Chamber II of the Special Court of Sierra Leone that tried the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor. For the five years that the trial lasted, Justice Sow sat on the bench with three other ‘main’ judges who presided over the trial in rotation. As alternate judge, Justice Sow’s job was to step in and act as a ‘main’ judge whenever any of the three main judges was unable to sit. He says during the five years, he “worked harder than anybody else because I took it very seriously. For me it was a very important trial because I was the only judge from the West African sub-region, and as such, I couldn’t come back home, face my people, and tell them lies about what I didn’t see or cannot justify.”

Justice Sow’s conscientiousness and determination to apply the law as demanded by the Statutes of the Special Court and the international criminal justice system, made it unpopular with the other judges on the case, to the extent that they isolated him at the crucial “deliberations” stage of the trial where the guilt or innocence of the accused was decided by the judges.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Senegal: No honeymoon for new president

Wade and Macky at presidential palace
New African - May 2012 - After 12 years in power, President Abdoulaye Wade finally bowed out following defeat by his protégé and former Prime Minister, Macky Sall, in last month’s runoff vote. The election followed weeks of riots in major cities and towns across the country over Wade’s decision to run for a third term. As Sheriff Bojang Jnr reports from Dakar, expectations are high for the new president.

Two months ago, there were fears Senegal would plunge into an election-related civil war. In the run up to the March polls, opposition activists, mainly young people took the streets of Dakar and elsewhere for weeks demanding that President Wade withdraw his controversial third term bid. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Senegalese president admits defeat in election

Thousands celebrate in streets of Dakar as Macky Sall defeats Abdoulaye Wade in runoff

By Afua Hirsch and Sheriff Bojang Jr in Dakar, Monday 26 March 2012

It is the story African voters live in fear of – a democratically elected leader flouts the constitution to extend his term in office, then refuses to cede power. For the past two months, voters in Senegal have been questioning whether their proud west African democracy would suffer the same fate.

But with one phone call on Sunday night, Senegal's 85-year-old president, Abdoulaye Wade, has finally confirmed the resilience of Senegal's political system, conceding victory to the opposition leader, Macky Sall, as early results showed a clear victory in runoff elections. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DJ Zeyna in the house

RNW - Under the name of DJ Zeyna, a teenager overcame social stigmas to follow her dream of becoming Senegal’s first pro female DJ.

By Sheriff Bojang Jnr, Dakar

In a long queue of dozens of fellow graduates, 19-year-old Seynabou Ndoye – aka DJ Zeyna – is having one of the most memorable and emotional moments of her life. After months of hard work and defying the odds, Seynabou Ndoye is graduating from Senegal’s only hip hop school, Hip Hop Akademy. With this intensive DJ-ing course under her belt, she’s on her way to become the country’s first professional female DJ.

Hip Hop Akademy, located in the outskirts of Dakar, was set up by a group of local artists and sponsored by the US Embassy in Senegal and the NGO Trust Africa. Its aim is to scout and develop young talents.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unrest in Senegal as opponents tell president to cancel looming election

Abdoulaye Wade, seeking a third term after pledging to serve only two, plans to allow weekend poll to go ahead

It is one of west Africa's more stable democracies, often singled out as an example to its benighted regional rivals. But Senegal is teetering on the edge of the kind of electoral confrontation that has troubled the likes of Ivory Coast and Liberia recently.

In the worst riots in the country for decades, thousands of opposition activists have taken to the streets daily for the past month in protest at a decision by the country's constitutional council to allow the incumbent president, Abdoulaye Wade, to run for a third term in the election this weekend.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Senegal: Why anti-Wade protests and momentum might end in heartbreak

Like all other street protests in recent years, I was out there in the streets of Dakar on Friday evening for another round of the so-called citizen protest aimed at stopping Senegal’s octogenarian president, Abdoulaye Wade from running for a controversial third term.

By 6pm, thousands of protesters scattered around the ‘forbidden’ independence square, the epicenter of opposition protest in recent days. They are Senegalese citizens from all regions across this beautiful West African nation. They are united by one goal: To force their ageing president to quit.

They wore T-shirts and held placards with such clearly spelt messages as ‘Down with Wade’, ‘We are fed up’, ‘You leave in peace or be forced to leave: It’s your choice’, ‘We are sick of your lies’ and ‘Where are the jobs you promised us, Mr. President’. One cheeky placard held by a young Cafe Touba (local coffee) seller reads, ‘Coffee for all except Goorgui (Wade’s local name)’. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Senegalese youth on the streets for change

RNW - “I never thought Senegal would get to a stage when the police would beat us and shoot at us just because we are asking the president to leave power. I never thought that some would die in a brutal way for merely exercising their democratic right to protest,” says a 24-year-old Senegalese named Lemzo. He is a former street trader responding to reports that a student had just been run over by a police truck.

Lemzo is one of the thousands of young Senegalese who are gathering at the popular Place De l’Obelisque to call on President Abdoulaye Wade not to run for a third term. Wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with a message to Wade to not use force to his bid to stay in power, Lemzo sits on a tiny wooden box and looks on as his colleagues set car tires on fire.