Senegal is a country on the west coast of Africa with a population of 11.6 million and capital city of Dakar. It got its independence in 1960 from three centuries of French colonial rule after which a moderate socialist government initiated economic reforms. The BBC writes, "Senegal has been held up as one of Africa's model democracies. It has an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule."
The BBC says of the country's media:
- Senegal has traditionally enjoyed one of the most unrestricted media climates in the region. However the Paris-based media rights body Reporters Without Borders noted in 2004 that developments in Senegal had taken a "disturbing turn". The constitution guarantees media freedom. The government does not practise censorship, but self-censorship arises from laws which prohibit reports that discredit the state, incite disorder or disseminate "false news". Nevertheless, the private media frequently criticise the government.
U.S. public relations
In a public relations campaign to improve its image in the Muslim world, the U.S. has sent Sada Cumber, a Pakistani-born Texas businessman, to an Islamic conference in Senegal. PR-inside.com wrote on March 14, 2008, "It's a tough job for a U.S. envoy - trying to win hearts in Muslim nations where Palestine is an emotive cause and the West is often seen as the source of insults to Islam.
"Sada Cumber, appointed as America's first envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference just two weeks ago, is in Senegal's capital for the meeting of the world's largest Muslim group. Friday was the closing day of the two-day summit." 
Outside military influence
The U.S. has conducted joint military exercises in recent years with Senegal as well as other African countries such as Benin, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Daniel Volman writing for the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars said, "Most African countries fall within the area of responsibility of the U.S. European Command (which also covers Europe and the former republics of the Soviet Union). However, a number of countries in northeast Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, and Kenya) and the Seychelles are within the area of responsibility of the U.S. Central Command; the U.S. Pacific Command covers the Comoros, Madagascar, and the Indian Ocean, including the island of Diego Garcia. These commands (along with the U.S. Special Operations Command and the various branches of the armed forces, i.e. the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines) are responsible for conducting active military operations in Africa, including training exercises, humanitarian relief, peacekeeping, evacuating civilians from unstable countries, and other operations." 
Amnesty International criticizes the industrialized countries for selling arms to countries in Africa that are involved in human rights abuses. CommonDreams.org writes, "Amnesty said the arms purchased by these developing countries are used by their governments against their people. In a statement, the human rights body noted that "weak national control of the international transfer of 'conventional' arms and security equipment contributes to the persistence of gross human rights violations.
"Of all the states with inadequate laws and administrative procedures to manage the export, transit and import of such arms - of which there are very many - none are more conspicuous than those states running the world's largest industrialized economies - the Group of Eight," the human rights group stated.
"Amnesty International revealed that in recent years, the US government had frequently hired or authorized private military consultants to train foreign police forces and military troops. According to a detailed scholarly study, US companies trained military forces in more than 24 countries during the 1990s. The list of the beneficiary countries includes Angola, Bolivia, Bosnia, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Kosovo, Peru, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Taiwan, Uganda and Nigeria." 
- Abdoulaye Wade, President, since election in 2000 which ended four decades of Socialist Party rule.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Arc of instability
- Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa
- Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative
- U.S. military bases overseas
- US military presence in Ghana
- Moustapha Niasse - former prime minister
- Senegal, National Geographic, accessed April 2008.
- Country profile: Senegal, BBC, accessed April 2008.
- "US envoy to Islamic world on public relations campaign, first American at Islamic summit", PR-inside.com, March 14, 2008.
- Daniel Volman, "U.S. Military Programs in Sub-Saharan", Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, accessed April 2008.
- Luke Oyawiri with Agency Reports, "Amnesty Decries G8's Arms Sale to Nigeria, Others", CommonDreams.org, May 20, 2003.
- Clive Myrie, "Confronting France's slave legacy", BBC, May 10, 2006.
- "Wade named as Senegal poll winner", BBC, March 1, 2007.