afrol News, 13 June - Youssou Diagne, President of Senegal's National Assembly, surprisingly resigned yesterday evening. Diagne presented his resignation because of an allegedly growing dispute with party colleague President Abdoulaye Wade and stated he did not want to make President Wade "feel ill at ease".
Diagne made his statement to the press after leaving President Wade's office one hour before midnight. The 64-years-old, who only has held the office for one year, was to inform Parliament of his resignation today. He is expected to be replaced by the Parliament's Vice-President, Abdoulaye Faye.
- My intention is to put the President of the Republic at ease, who is a friend, and not to obstruct him in any way", Diagne explained his resignation. The many "rumours in the press" about the conflict between him and Wade was starting to harm the latter and the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS). Diagne assured he had not been under pressure from Wade to resign.
The Senegalese press had reported on the growing disagreement between Diagne and Wade over PDS poor local election results. In the 12 May poll, PDS had lost majority and mayors in a majority of Senegal's towns and cities, notably in Mbour, Diagne's hometown and formerly a PDS stronghold. The only major city under PDS control is now Dakar.
Diagne - strongly attached to the party - after the elections at several occasions was quoted by the Senegalese making public remarks that strongly criticised PDS' election campaign. This was interpreted as an internal conflict in the party, something the protagonists however deny. Diagne held the rumours "are based on absolutely nothing" and that he stepped down to stop these rumours.
The serious setback for the government party in the elections stood in sharp contrast to the April 2001 parliamentary poll, where PDS and its government allies had obtained 89 of a total of 120 deputies. The year before, PDS' Wade had been elected President.
The PDS, which thus ended 40 years of socialist government last year, has dropped in popularity after introducing economic and structural reforms. Privatisation and divestment from public enterprises have left many jobless and a significant cut in agricultural subsidies has hurt the rural masses.