It is now known that Senegal has been inhabited since Paleolithic and Neolithic period. This has been evidenced by the discovery of household implements and tools and stone circles. Added to these discoveries are copper and iron objects, which have been discovered in the Sine-Saloum region. One of the major ethnic groups the Tukulor occupied the lower Senegal Valley since the 11th century. It is now widely believed that the name of the country is derived from the Zenega Berbers of Mauritania and northern Senegal.
Just before 1040, the Zenega Berbers established what is now widely accepted as a Muslim Monastery, which eventually became the base of the Almoravids. These Almoravids eventually converted the Tukulor to Islam. Interestingly enough, these Almoravids managed to defeat all the major Kingdoms – Ghana and Morocco – and entered Spain. Between 1150 and 1350, the kingdom of Jolof was established. However, in the 16th century, it became factionalised into four kingdoms, which competed with each other. These are: the Jolof, Walo, Cajor (Kajor) and Bawol (Baol) kingdoms.
Senegalese exposure to European trade started in 1444 when the Portuguese established trading posts along the coast on the river Senegal, Goree (which eventually became a major slave transit post) Rufisque and along the south as a whole.
Reflective of the European struggles for power along Africa’s coast, the Portuguese were displaced by the Dutch and eventually the French. French hegemony eventually resulted in the establishment of a factory in 1659 at N’dar and eventually became the town of Saint-Louis. The eventual decline of Dutch influence in Senegal was the French conquest of Goree in 1677 resulting in an increased French trade in slaves, gold and gum.
While these struggles for power among the European powers were going on, the Serer of Sine and Saloum also used this period to establish independent kingdoms. With the spread of Islamic influences in the Kingdoms, islam gained strength and finally in 1776, Tukulor Muslims established a theocratic confederacy in Fouta Toro.
Senegal was under French rule during its colonial period and inherited a legacy of democratic principles. This is evidenced by a variety of political forces that emerged during the 1950s including a strong trade union movement, Islamic sects and exponents of Marxism. The Union progressiste sénégalaise (UPS) was founded in 1958 by Leopold Sedar Senghor, a widely respected poet and academic, who combined the support of foreign and local business interests, Islamic leaders and socialists. The success of the UPS as a political group was aided by a ban on the activities of the Marxist Parti africain de l’independance (PAI), another political grouping at the time. In November 1958 Senegal became a self-governing member of the French Community. Prior to independence, Senegal was not spared the need to enter into a form of Federation or Union entered into by various West African countries at the time. The Mali Federation with Soudan (now Mali) was formed in April 1959, and became independent on June 20th 1960. Nevertheless, owing to the incompatibility of the two leaderships, Senegal seceded to become a separate independent state on 20th of August 1960.
The Republic of Senegal was thus proclaimed on 5 September 1960 with Senghor as its president. Senegal at independence in 1960- after 300 years of French rule- already had a limited experience of democracy as indicated above. The inhabitants of its principal towns had received a form of French citizenship in the 19th century and had been represented in the French national assembly. Dakar, as an administrative centre of French West Africa and now the capital of Senegal, was an active centre for African politics. Senghor’s Prime Minister was the socialist Mamadou Dia, who attempted, despite French opposition to introduce comprehensive national planning. He however fell out of favour with Senghor and was later arrested in December 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment, convicted of organising an attempted coup. Senghor assumed the premiership after Dia’s arrest.
Senegalese foreign policy at time was geared towards the encouragement of French private investment and its (French) use of military facilities in Senegal.
Governance was conducted on somewhat inchoate democratic principles which developed over time in the post independence era. In 1963, a revised constitution strengthening the powers of the president was approved in a referendum, while the UPS also won a decisive victory in elections to the national assembly later in the year. The opposition parties, after the 1963 elections, had some problems with the ruling party which was reflected in serious rioting in Dakar. This eventually led to the banning of these political parties with others absorbed into the UPS, which in 1966 was the sole legal party. The principal legal opposition movement, the Bloc des masses sénégalaises, led by Cheikh Anta Diop, was outlawed. Other forms of unrest in the education sector and the trade union movement in 1968, prompted the government to promise educational reforms and consessions to workers. Subsequent attempts by government however to co-opt union leaders into its Confédération nationale des travailleurs sénégalais (CNTS) were resisted by more militant labour activists.
The 1970s marked an important time in the political history of Senegal owing to its definition of and impact on current political trends. The office of the Prime Minister was revived and assigned to a young provincial administrator, Abdou Diouf (who later became the President in 1981for 19 years). Party political activity in general also intensified. The ruling party (UPS) was re-elected in January 1973 with Senghor still as the president. The political situation at the time favoured the UPS which had huge majorities in the polls but this was not devoid of the usual political unrest that characterised elections in the West African sub-region and other parts of the world. Further student unrest ensued. In March, Dia was released from detention, and in July, the government permitted the registration of a new political party, the Parti démocratique sénégalais (PDS), led by a lawyer, Abdoulaye Wade (who was in opposition for over two decades). In 1976, Senghor announced the formation of a three-party system, comprising the UPS (which was renamed the Parti socialiste-PS), the PDS and a Marxist-Leninist party, to be formed by members of the PAI. Other prominent politicians who were not included formed unofficial parties: Cheikh Anta Diop established the Rassemblement national démocratique (RND), and in 1978 Dia founded the Coordination de l’opposition sénégalaise unie. The 1978 February national assembly elections again saw the PS wining 83 of the 100 seats in the assembly while Senghor overwhelmingly defeated Abdoulaye Wade in the presidential elections. A fourth political grouping, the right-wing mouvement républicain sénégalais, was officially recognised but ceased to exist by the early 1990s.
The late 1970s and early 1980s brought in it is wake, declining economic conditions both on the African continent and the world at large. A global recession characterised by oil price hikes, reduction in prices of primary commodities on the world market and the issue of debt crisis induced agitation and intense pressure for imaginative political reforms. The situation was no different in Senegal and formed the basis for Senghor’s resignation in December 1980. Diouf, thus, assumed the presidency in January 1981-also becoming secretary-general of the PS- and undertook a vigorous reorganisation of the political system.
Under Diouf’s leadership, the country consolidated its democratic practices though with some hiccups in the area of dealing with opposition pressures, constitutional concessions, post-election unrest and the intractable issue of Separatism in the Casamance among others.
In April 1981, a few months after taking office, Diouf removed restrictions on political activity and in the following months, the RND and numerous smaller parties- many of which had socialist sympathies- were officially registered.
Externally, Senegal became involved in the affairs of the Gambia in August 1981 when the then deposed president, Sir Dawda Jawara requested Abdul Diouf to help restore him to power. This effort occasioned Diouf and Jawara to work quickly to set up a confederation of the two states with coordinated policies in defence, foreign affairs and economic and financial matters. An agreement establishing the Senegambian confederation was formally ratified in December 1981 and came into effect in February 1982. Diouf was designated permanent president of joint council of ministers and a confederal assembly was established. Subsequent arrangements were reached in the area of defence and security, foreign policy, communications and transport. This integration process, however, suffered a setback when Gambia resisted attempts by Senegal to proceed towards the full political and economic integration between the two countries.
In February 1983, Diouf led the PS again to a clear victory- receiving 83.5?f votes cast and the PS candidates securing 79.9?f the vote for seats in the national assembly. This indicated the immense goodwill the government had as a result of Diouf’s gradual anti-corruption campaign at the time. The PDS won eight seats and the RND only one. Diouf, in forming a new government in April 1983, focused on strengthening his own powers with the abolition of the premiership and continued his purge of the party old political elite. Habib Thiam, who was the Prime Minister since 1981, was transferred to the presidency of the national assembly and named Diouf’s automatic successor. Under the pressure of the‘party old guards’ ho
Answered By: Josephine - 3/21/2008