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Cable reference id: #09DAKAR1069
“All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.” — “Refus Global“, Paul-Émile Borduas

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Hide header UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001069 SIPDIS SENSITIVE DEPT FOR AF/W PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL [External Political Relations], KDEM [Democratization], XY [West Africa], PU [Guinea-Bissau] SUBJECT: CONFLICTING MESSAGES ABOUT WADE'S MONUMENT REF: 08 DAKAR 696 ¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Details have continued to emerge regarding Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's project for a "Monument of the African Renaissance." To pay off the North Korean firm that is constructing the monument, a valuable tract of land is said to have been given to Mbackeou Faye, one of Wade's prominent supporters, with the instructions that Faye should pay the cost of construction (believed to be $25-35 million) to the North Koreans with proceeds from selling the newly-acquired land. After paying off the North Koreans, Faye will end up with a hefty profit from the land deal. In response to an inquiry from the European Union (EU), Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye defended the land deal without really revealing any details. However, his additional assertion that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) had supervised the process conflicts with existing information. Additionally, Wade's recent decision to claim 35 percent of the monument's proceeds as an intellectual property right conflicts with Ndiaye's assertion that the land deal was done transparently and within GOS regulations. END SUMMARY. BACKGROUND ON THE MONUMENT -------------------------- ¶2. (SBU) The execution of President Wade's idea for a "Monument of the African Renaissance" in Dakar is currently in the process of being realized. A 100-plus North Korean crew has been constructing the titanic, grandiose edifice of a style reminiscent of the Stalinesque behemoths of the halcyon days of the Soviet Union. As described by a GOS brochure, the structure features an "African man emerging from a volcano, facing the West, with his wife, and he is holding his child up as if to show him to the world." Reportedly, Wade sees the monument as a cultural legacy for himself and a tangible symbol mirroring his belief that Africa must look to the future rather than be beholden to its past. THE MONUMENT(al) LAND DEAL ---------------------- ¶3. (SBU) Wade appropriated a public piece of land occupying the western-most promontory of the Senegalese coast, just northwest of downtown Dakar to be used for the site of his proposed monument. He hired a North Korean firm to construct the monument at a cost of CFA 12-16 billion (approximately USD $25-35 million), according to Wade himself. To cover the costs of construction, rather than pay for the structure from the GOS's limited budget, a valuable tract of land near Dakar's airport was appropriated. Rather than sell the land itself, it is believed the North Koreans and/or GOS engaged the services of Mbackeou Faye, a prominent businessman and one of Wade's close friends and loyal supporters, to commercialize the real estate. (COMMENT: Although the GOS asserts that the North Koreans chose Faye to develop and sell the property, it is all but certain that Wade himself chose Faye and merely told the North Koreans whom to hire. END COMMENT) ¶4. (SBU) Faye has sold 12 hectares of land thus far, to Ipres, a retirement and pension institution for private sector and nongovernment employees-civil servants, for USD $54 million. (NOTE: Ipres is co-managed by the private sector and the GOS, with Wade nominating the company's director and the company's private board confirming the nomination. END NOTE.) With the remaining land, Faye is believed to be planning to build 270 luxurious residences, each of which will cost USD $300,000. This is expected to bring him an additional USD $81 million. After paying the North Korean firm, Faye is expected to end up with a handsome profit from the deal. (COMMENT: Although Ipres's board is technically independent, its members are vulnerable to political pressure from the Presidency. Wade can easily pull some strings at the company to push deals through. It is very probable that Wade had some say in Ipres's land purchase. END COMMENT.) THE GOVERNMENT BEGINS TO CONTRADICT ITSELF ------------------------------------------ ¶5. (SBU) On June 30, 2009 the EU sent a letter to the GOS questioning the land deal. In the letter, the EU complained that the GOS gave up a valuable revenue-generating opportunity while continuing to ask for budget support from donors. ¶6. (SBU) On July 9, Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye responded with a letter defending the land deal, essentially arguing that the GOS had done nothing wrong, did not "sell" the land, and did not receive any money. The letter also argues that the North Koreans, not the GOS, chose Faye to develop the land. Furthermore, the DAKAR 00001069 002 OF 002 letter asserts that the MOF was involved in all aspects of the land deal. This is in direct contradiction to what Abdoulaye Diop, the Minister of Finance, asserted during the presentation of the revised 2009 budget at the National Assembly. Essentially, the Minister stated that the MOF was not involved in the monument land deal. (NOTE: According to a source in the MOF, the President handled the land deal himself without consulting the ministry, and that the Presidency, not the MOF, controls all public land in the airport and upscale Almadies neighborhoods. END NOTE.) FURTHER CONTRADICTIONS ---------------------- ¶7. (SBU) President Wade recently claimed that since the monument was his own personal idea he has a right to share in the proceeds, claiming intellectual property rights over the statue. Wade has subsequently created a foundation and claimed that 35 percent of the monument's proceeds will go as royalties to the foundation. Additionally, Wade has named his son, Karim Wade, as the president of the foundation's board of directors. The money that goes to the foundation will ostensibly be used to fund another of Wade's pet projects, the "Cases de Tout Petits". These "cases" are early childhood education centers, of which over 100 have been built throughout the country since 2000. Although these "cases" are a good idea in theory, early childhood education is a luxury in a country where even universal primary education is unattainable. Most of the existing centers sit as empty shells, either locked or diverted to multiple other uses. MORE TO COME? ------------- ¶8. (SBU) In his letter, Ndiaye mentioned that a second land deal is likely in the works. He claimed that this deal will cover the costs of landscaping the monument grounds, the construction of a proposed museum and conference center inside the edifice, and the construction of parking lots and an amusement park. COMMENT ------- ¶9. (SBU) The monument, the outer shell of which is missing only the man's head, is now a prominent feature of greater Dakar's skyline clearly visible from most of the outer rim of the city. As it sits close enough to the flight path of planes landing at Dakar's international airport, it is ensured of becoming a topic of conversation for foreign visitors and those passing through. The Senegalese man and woman on the street are also talking, most expressing the simple plaint that, if given the choice, they would have preferred electricity and running water. END COMMENT. BERNICAT



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