The Senegal Timer: Libya and Senegal Diplomatic Ties [Update]

The New York Times actually mentioned once the “Dakar Incident” in an article without headline published on 6 November 1988.

Senegal’s Government decided today [05/11/1988] to restore diplomatic relations with Libya, giving Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi his latest foreign policy success among African nations. […]

Senegal broke diplomatic relations with the Libya in June 1980, accusing Gaddafi of supporting Senegalese dissidents.

In the years thereafter, Senagalese (SIC) authorities charged that the major opposition figure here, Abdoulaye Wade, received Libyan financing.

Last February, relations deteriorated further when the Sengalese (SIC) police arrested two people described as Libyan agents along with a prominent Sengalese (SIC) Islamic fundamentalist [Ahmed Khalifa NIASSE] at the airport here.

On June 15, three weeks after Colonel Qaddafi first announced his intention to restore relations with Senegal, a judge here released the Sengalese (SIC) and the two Libyans without charges.

Ahmed Khalifa Niasse with French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Ahmed Khalifa Niasse with French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Western diplomats in Dakar today cited two factors that may have prompted Senegal’s President, Abdou Diouf, to restore relations with Libya: a wish to weaken Mr. Wade, his political adversary, and a desire to prepare for a 1990 summit meeting here of the Islamic Conference.

(Update) The reader should know that, on December 20 and 21 1986, the Senegalese Socialist Party had held its XI meeting during which the members clearly marked their political support to Hissène Habré in the Chad-Libyan conflict.

I asked a knowledgeable friend what he thought of the renewal of Senegal diplomatic relations with Libya at this point in time.

There had been a series of “civil” wars between Chadian elements backed by Libya/USSR on the one hand and France/USA on the other. The third of these wars which began in February 1986 saw a huge defeat for Libya. Up to 10% of the entire Libyan armed forces had been killed and $0.5bn of mainly Soviet tanks, armaments and equipment had been captured.

The fighting continued until February 1987 when the OAU negotiated a truce between Libya and Chad (governed by Habre). In May 1988 Gaddafi announced he would recognise the Habre government, hoping, I think, to hold on to the Azouzou strip which Libya had occupied and held some years earlier.

So it is maybe not surprising that Senegal and other neighbours would wish for peaceful relations with Libya.

My source is Geoff Simons. Libya and the West, from Independence to Lockerbie, Centre for Libyan Studies. Published by L.B. Tauris. London 2003.

It may also be worth noticing that Senegal also renewed  a bit later its diplomatic relations with Iran which had been severed in 1984, because of Iran’s support to Lebanese Islamic groups in Senegal. (End of Update)

Comment. Actually, NIASSE was released three weeks BEFORE the two Libyans (on 25/05/1988).




NYT: Senegal Will Restore Full Ties With Libya

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