Senegal celebrates independence
By Philip Iglauer
The West African nation of Senegal celebrated its 52nd anniversary of independence and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Korea with a reception at Lotte Hotel, Wednesday.
A considerable cross section of the foreign diplomatic community, the 16 embassies representing the African diplomatic corps in Korea, Senegalese expatriates and friends of Senegal came out in celebration, enjoying authentic West African cuisine and festive singing and dancing.
Senegalese Ambassador to Korea Amadou Dabo gave those assembled an update of the recent presidential election in his country, in addition to a summary of Korean-Senegalese relations.
“This presidential election revealed, once again, all the vitality of our democratic system and the maturity of the Senegalese people,” Dabo said in welcome remarks.
Challenger Macky Sall soundly defeated 12-year incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade in voting in late March. Wade sparked riots that left six dead after controversially extending the presidential two-term limit to three.
“With the proper conduct of the electoral process, Senegal has shown to the world once again that Africa can organize democratic, peaceful and transparent elections,” Dabo said.
Senegal is a democratic country with a Muslim majority. The resilience of Senegal’s democracy was underscored as coup d’etat occurred last month in neighboring Mali. Senegal is the only West African country to not have had a coup d’etat.
“This is signal ― not only for some African countries, but for all those who still doubt the ability of Africa to solve its own problems,” he said. “Ultimately, the success of the electoral process in Senegal is a victory for all Africa.”
Ma Young-sam, deputy minister for public diplomacy at the ministry foreign affairs and trade, and Vitali Fen, dean of the diplomatic corps, also attended.
Senegal and Korea established diplomatic ties in 1962.
Dabo said that Korea and Senegal are finalizing projects in the fishing industry, energy and maritime infrastructures.
“Senegal appreciates the Korean government’s development support through (Economic Development Cooperation Fund) loans and its grant assistance from the (Korean International Cooperation Agency),” he said.
“Our two countries are working closely to uphold international peace and stability, to promote democracy and development and to fight adverse effects of climate change,” he said.