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Senegal - Military Doctrine

The Senegalese army has the peculiarity in Africa of having never attempted a coup d'etat. On the contrary, it has been (and still is) present in many countries for peacekeeping missions. Well trained, little corrupted, it is without a doubt the most integral weaponry of the country.

Out of the 15 total member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Senegal and Cape Verde are the only two never to have undergone a coup. While the military refrained from interfering in the two alternations of power, the executive branch repeatedly used security forces to suppress political opposition. Police brutality, even when it results in fatalities, has seldom resulted in the investigation or prosecution of offending officers. A major obstacle to the prosecution of members of Senegal’s security forces is the requirement of an ordre de poursuite, authorization from the supervising ministry—the Ministry of the Interior in the case of police officers and the Ministry of Defense in the case of gendarmes and military personnel. This procedure in effect grants the executive branch veto power over any judicial proceedings against members of the security forces. Contributing to this impunity, Senegalese Armed Forces are under the jurisdiction of military courts, which typically are less likely than civilian courts to convict.

The only political intervention by the military was a show of force made during the standoff between President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia in 1962. The republican nature of the Armed Forces is evident in the non-role they played during the two alternations in power. Although advisors to President Diouf allegedly urged him to call in the Armed Forces and put an end to the electoral process when it became clear that he was going to lose his bid for reelection in 2000, the fact that he chose not to is as much an indication of his perceived inability to do so as his commitment to the democratic process. Similarly, calling in the military was not an option for President Wade in 2012, although in March 2011, his Minister of Justice accused the youth wing of the opposition coalition Bennoo Siggil Senegal of conspiring to attempt a coup d’état. This issue was ridiculed and quickly dropped.

The issue that Senegalese security forces have posed with rule of law is one of impunity. In a 2010 report, Amnesty International provided case evidence of authorities consistently providing members of the security forces with impunity for alleged human rights violations during the suppression of public demonstrations and detention of suspects. The June 2012 report by Amnesty International researcher, Gaëtan Mootoo, found that in the past two decades, hardly any investigations into allegations of human rights violations committed by Senegal’s police and gendarmerie had led to the accused being brought to justice. This also applied to the 30-year conflict in Casamance in which government security forces committed atrocities for which no one was held accountable. The culture of impunity served as both a weapon and a shield for security forces.

Although President Leopold-Sedar Senghor was philosophically opposed to the continued control of African territory by Portugal or any other European state, his primary goal appeared to be the reduction or prevention of border violations or the use of Senegalese territory by either armed guerrillas or government troops from Portuguese Guinea. The situation was not being fully reported in the 1970s, but available information suggested that the primary mission of the Senegalese troops and other security forces in the border area was to reemphasize Senegalese hegemony in this remote area and to provide security forthe local population.

Concurrently with other precautionary measures, the military staffing of various positions in Casamance Regionwas increased afterabout 1970, as the national government became concerned over incursions upon Senegalese territory by rebels from Portuguese Guinea and by troops of that nation who purportedly attacked these guerrilla forces. In 1971 the Senegalese armed forces held maneuvers in southern Casamance Region, thereby creating a show of force in the area. In 1973 an undetermined number of troops probably several mixed companies, were stationed in the region.

On 05 March 1998 Amnesty International reported that "For the past 15 years, civilians have been hostage to the conflict between the Senegalese Government and the Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC), Democratic Forces of Casamance Movement, an armed opposition group which is demanding the independence of this region in southern Senegal.... Human rights violations in Casamance are essentially the work of the army and the gendarmerie, which have for years been acting with total impunity.... Military sources have told Amnesty International, under the seal of anonymity, that it is regular practice for "the Senegalese army to torture and execute people in Casamance, and then to bury the victims' bodies close to army camps and checkpoints".

"These massive violations of human rights cannot be explained away as "regrettable errors", since the Senegalese army is unanimously seen as a well-structured and well-disciplined army and has for many years regularly taken part in peace-keeping operations conducted both by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations (UN). Senegal itself proudly claims to have republican security forces that obey the orders of the political authorities. "

The group of advisers techniques of the Armed Forces Federal German (GCT) in the Republic of the Senegal is the instrument of a particular aspect of the German foreign policy: promoting the development and maintenance capabilities of peace through assistance to equipment and training of the Forces Senegalese armed forces. Installed since 1986 in Dakar, the German military team meets skills such as management, mechanics, technique drilling and construction. Equipment support puts emphasis on the delivery of materials (means of transport, truck-repair, ambulances, spare parts) as well as the realization of technical infrastructure (workshops, garages), hydraulic (drilling), health and post renovations. The programming of all projects are negotiated every 4 years between the States.

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