Senegal Recent History

In the history of Senegal sporadic and brief were the exploratory expeditions from the English and French. The first effective military occupation of the territory was organized in 1879 by the French Ministry of the Navy and the commander was Captain JS Gallieni. But as early as 1854 a penetration project had been studied by General LC Faidherbe, and therefore the Gallieni enterprise was only the first step in the future development of the enterprise.

He took possession of the entire left bank of Senegal, from Medina to Bafoulabè; then in 1880/81 he commanded a second expedition that had to fight, victoriously, against the Bambara and then reach Kita, going up the high valleys of Senegal and Niger. Three other bloody war campaigns were supported by the French army, under the command of Colonel A. According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Senegal, Borgnis-Desbordes, against the Mandingo chief Samory; but in the end, after having completely destroyed the villages of Bjoubanko and Daba, Borgnis managed to carry out the Faidherbe project, penetrating the territory up to the high Niger, and with the construction of a large road protected by 5 forts: Medina, Bafoulabè, Badoumbè, Kita and Bamako.

On February 26, 1885, in the Berlin Conference, rights were officially granted to France throughout the territory of Upper Niger.

In the years 1888/89 other military operations were necessary to conquer Segou, Koniakary and Kaarta. But many tribes, commanded by chief Ahmadu, did not submit to the French and indeed continued their disturbing actions. The French government then was forced to use a stronger work to close the chapter once and for all and, concentrating the bulk of the forces in Koniakary, sent two columns: one against Ahmadu and one against Samory, who was forced to repair permanently in the Ivory Coast.

The last goal of Timbuktu remained, where the Tuareg still resisted, and in 1893 Colonel Joffre, in charge of this mission, fulfilled it with full satisfaction of the French. In 1898, the last war action carried out with a favorable outcome against the bands of Babemba, allowed the French not only to conquer the Upper Vault but also to join Sudan to the Ivory Coast.

Senegal Recent History

In 1904 the French government decided to occupy all the territories from Niger to Lake Chad. Thus began the colonization of the entire area which was declared “overseas territory” by the Paris government.

On September 28, 1958, a referendum was held which proclaimed Senegal an autonomous state of the French Community. The following year, in union with Sudan, he formed the Federation of Mali, from which however in the same year he separated proclaiming himself Republic with Dakar capital. She was admitted to the United Nations on September 29, 1960.

Head of state was the president; 15 ministers composed the Governing Council and 60 members, elected by universal suffrage, composed the National Assembly. The president, LS Senghor, and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia, of a Marxist political tendency, administered power. Disagreements soon arose between the two and Dia attempted a coup in December 1962. It went wrong because the people were in solidarity with the president; Dia and his helpers were arrested.

In March 1963 a new constitution was proclaimed which launched the presidential regime, and the president also became the holder of executive power. In the elections of the same year Sanghor was re-elected. He was also Secretary General of the Union Progressiste Senegalaise, which had an absolute majority in the National Assembly. The opposition party was the “Bloc des Masses Senegalaises”, which staged protests against alleged electoral fraud.

In 1964 the Union also had a majority in the administrative elections. In 1966 Senghor convinced the opponent “Parti du Regroupment Africain” to join the government party and in fact three representatives of that party were even elected ministers.

In 1967, some changes made to the Constitution, increased the president’s power but decreased that of the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the economy was experiencing various difficulties also due to the drop in the world price of peanuts (only extensive local production) and the students started street demonstrations which resulted in the closure of the University of Dakar for a few months.

The unions then, assembled under the National Union of Workers of Senegal, called for a general strike following which the government promised constitutional, university and wage reforms. And with these promises he restored order in the country. In 1970 the position of Prime Minister was restored, entrusted to the young Abdou Diouf. He dealt with all internal and economic problems. In the same year the “National Confederation of Workers of Senegal” was formed. Thus Senghor, freed from all internal problems, was able to devote himself more to foreign policy.

In 1973 he was once again elected president; in the same year he firmly repressed some unrest in the University of Dakar; the following year, for the purpose of national conciliation, he freed Dia and the political prisoners; he promoted some amendments to the Constitution, whereby the limits to the presidential mandates were removed and the successor to the president was established in the person of the prime minister.

Senghor continued to deal with international affairs; renewed economic agreements with France; in some countries he acted as mediator to reconcile friction; he reconciled himself with Mali, after the breakdown of relations and the withdrawal from the federation of the same name and promoted the establishment of an organization among the coastal countries of the Senegal river with relative enhancement of the river itself; entered into cooperation agreements with Gambia; broke relations with Israel and approached Arab countries. The February 1978 elections again saw Senghor presiding over the republic. On December 31, 1980 he resigned; he was succeeded by Diouf who immediately set in motion a program of vast political-constitutional reforms, which was then completed by the new head of government, H. Thiam.

In 1981 a law was passed that sanctioned multi-partyism. Diouf, who was also secretary general of the “Socialist Party”, reorganized and revitalized it throughout the national territory. And so when the presidential and administrative elections took place on February 27, 1983, the first were won by Diouf and the second by the Socialist Party.

In the following April Diouf, strengthened by the results achieved in the elections, amended the Constitution so that he could take on the position of head of government (which then returned as before in 1999). But in the meantime the economy had deteriorated and the opposition parties tried to unite to remove the majority from the ruling party. And when in February 1988 there were the new elections, always won by Diouf, there were accidents in Dakar so serious that the state of emergency had to be declared. Many opposition leaders were arrested, including A. Wade, leader of the Senegalese Democratic Party. Diouf, however, despite having won the elections, had to take note that a considerable deflection had occurred in the conquest of the seats; and then, to avoid future complications,

This atmosphere of relaxation did not have immediate results but nonetheless favored a government coalition project which took place in 1991, but which dissolved in 1992.

In February of the following year Diouf won the presidential election by an increasingly reduced margin and the same thing happened for the socialist party. That, 1993, was also the year in which strong social tensions arose, with strikes and unrest caused by the austerity measures that the government was forced to apply.

In the international arena, in the previous decade, Senegal had to face many turbulences with the Casamance region, and had very difficult relationships with neighboring Mauritania, which resulted in the mutual slaughter of their respective communities.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries, long since broken, were restored in 1992. Instead, he always maintained excellent relations with France, which always pursued a policy of massive investments, and even after independence, French capital continued to flow for direct collaboration with Senegal’s development plans.

In 1993 relations between the Socialist Party of Diouf and the Senegalese Democratic Party of Wade deteriorated greatly, as the opposition did not approve the economic plans carried out by the executive. But also another reason had led to the tightening and concerned the killing of the vice-president of the Constitutional Council, B. Seye, in which Wade himself seemed to be involved. So between July 1993 and February 1994 Senegal had to record numerous strikes and street demonstrations with frequent bloody clashes, which led to the arrest of many members of the opposition.

All the unrest had to be eliminated in order to govern with some possibility of improvement and then relaxed measures were applied and Wade was called to be part of the government, while exiting the office of Minister of the Interior, D. Ka, held responsible for the situation.

But Ka did not remain inactive and, after leaving the Socialist Party, founded, in April 1998, together with other socialist representatives, the Union for Democratic Renewal. Then he brought to the attention of the people all forms of government corruption, also guilty of electoral fraud. In spite of this, the party he founded in the legislative laws of May 24 won very few seats.

In July 1998 the government was formed by the new premier M. Lamine Loum. He faced a very active opposition. In fact, it tried to boycott the work for the composition of the Senate in January 1999 and then in the following April that of the National Assembly which sought to prepare correctly the subsequent presidential elections.

These were carried out in February-March 2000 and were the prerogative of Wade who, therefore, not only dethroned Diouf but, after 40 years of unchallenged domination, took away the scepter of government from the Socialist Party.


In the meantime, however, relations between the government and separatists in the Casamance area had intensified throughout the 1990s. For many years now there has been an alternation of dialogues and interruptions with armed clashes. It seemed that the peace process would never come to fruition. Both in 1996 and 1997 he had fought bitterly and many citizens had been forced to flee and find refuge in Gambia, but especially in Guinea-Bissau. But in January 1998 Senghor wanted to end the massacres and ordered a ceasefire. Dialogue with the central government reopened and Senghor declared himself willing to give up the independence of Casamance in exchange for a serious commitment by the executive to promote the economic and cultural development of the region.

In the international arena, Senegal improved relations with Mauritania by activating trade, solving border issues above all in combating drug trafficking. Agreements of this kind also bound the country to Gambia, but the main government action was activated with Guinea Bissau. The latter state, bordering on Senegal, worked to recompose the Casamance issue, receiving Senegalese aid in exchange for the military uprising that had shocked that country in June 1998.

Relevant was diplomatic work with France and the United States in order to maintain peace in Africa. To this end, Senegal received visits from Chirac in 1995 and Clinton in 1998.