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Abdou Diouf

Abdou Diouf
2nd Secretary General of La Francophonie
In office
1 January 2003 – 31 December 2014
Preceded by Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Succeeded by Michaëlle Jean
President of Senegal
In office
1 January 1981 – 1 April 2000
Prime Minister Habib Thiam
Moustapha Niasse
Habib Thiam
Mamadou Lamine Loum
Preceded by Léopold Sédar Senghor
Succeeded by Abdoulaye Wade
Prime Minister of Senegal
In office
26 February 1970 – 31 December 1980
President Léopold Sédar Senghor
Preceded by Mamadou Dia (1962)
Succeeded by Habib Thiam
Personal details
Born (1935-09-07) 7 September 1935
Louga, French West Africa
(now Senegal)
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Diouf
Alma mater University of Dakar
Pantheon-Sorbonne University
Religion Sunni Islam (Maliki-Ash'ari, Tijani)

Abdou Diouf (    ; second Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie from January 2003 to December 2014.


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
  • Presidency 3
    • 1983 and 1988 elections 3.1
    • Senegambia 3.2
    • Response to AIDS 3.3
    • 1993 and 2000 elections 3.4
  • Socialist Party leadership 4
  • International organizations 5
  • Height 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Diouf was born in Louga, Senegal, the child of an Hal Pulaar mother and a Serere father. He went to primary and secondary school at the Lycée Faidherbe in Saint-Louis, and studied law at Dakar University and then at the Sorbonne, Paris. Diouf graduated in 1959.[2]

Political career

After graduation, Diouf returned to Senegal, where in September 1960 he was appointed Director of International Technical Cooperation. In November 1960 he became assistant of the Secretary-General of the Government, and in June 1961 he became Secretary-General of the Ministry of Defense.[1][2] In 1961 he joined the Senegalese Progressive Union (Union Progressiste Sénégalaise, UPS), which later became the Socialist Party of Senegal.[2] In December 1961 he became Governor of the Sine-Saloum Region, serving in that position until December 1962, when he became Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In May 1963 he was moved to the position of Director of the Cabinet of President Léopold Senghor, where he remained until December 1965. In January 1964 he became Secretary-General of the Presidency, serving in that post until March 1968, when he became Minister of Planning and Industry. He remained in the latter position until February 1970, when he was named Prime Minister.[1]


In 1970 Senghor reinstated the post of prime minister, giving it to Diouf, his protégé. Senghor trusted Diouf, who had administrative experience but no independent power base of his own.[3] This was important, for Senghor's last prime minister Mamadou Dia was accused of using the position to launch a coup d'état. On January 1, 1981, Senghor resigned in favor of Diouf, who became president of Senegal.

1983 and 1988 elections

Diouf continued the political liberalization Senghor had begun by holding elections in 1983. He allowed fourteen opposition parties to run, instead of the four Senghor had allowed. The practical effect of this was to fragment the opposition, and Diouf won with 83.5 percent of the vote.[4]

In 1985, opposing parties tried to form a coalition. It was broken up on the grounds that coalitions were forbidden by the constitution.[5] Also in 1985, Abdoulaye Wade, Diouf's main political opponent, was temporarily arrested for unlawful demonstration.[6]

In February, 1988, elections were held again. Diouf won 72.3 percent of the vote to Wade's 25.8 percent, and opposing parties alleged electoral fraud. Disturbances followed, and Diouf declared a state of emergency, detaining Wade again until May of that year.[7]


Under Diouf, Senegal agreed to form a confederation called Senegambia with neighboring Gambia on December 12, 1981; this union took place on February 1, 1982. In April 1989, the Mauritania-Senegal Border War developed, leading to an outbreak of ethnic violence and the severing of diplomatic relations with Mauritania. As the region destabilized, Senegambia was dissolved.

Response to AIDS

In 1986, Diouf began an anti-Christian and Muslim religious leaders to raise awareness about AIDS. The result was that while AIDS was decimating much of Africa, the infection rate for Senegal stayed below 2 per cent.[8]

1993 and 2000 elections

Diouf was reelected in February 1993 with 58% of the vote[9] to a 7-year term; presidential term lengths had been extended by two years in 1991.[10] In the first round of the 2000 elections, on February 27, he took 41.3% of the vote against 30.1% for the long-time opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade, but in the second round on March 19 he received only 41.5% against 58.5% for Wade.[9] Diouf conceded defeat and left office on April 1.

From this electoral defeat came one of Diouf's greatest contributions to African peace, for he gracefully surrendered power to Abdoulaye Wade, his long-time rival. When Diouf left office Wade said he should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for leaving without violence.[11]

Socialist Party leadership

Diouf was Deputy Secretary-General of the Socialist Party under Senghor. He became Secretary-General in 1981, and when the party was restructured[1] at its Thirteenth Congress in 1996,[12] he was moved to the position of President of the PS,[1] while Ousmane Tanor Dieng became First Secretary, having been proposed by Diouf.[12]

International organizations

Both during and after his presidency, Diouf has been active in international organizations. He was President of the François Mitterrand, the President of France, resulting in France speaking strongly for sanctions against South Africa. In 1992, he was re-elected President of the OAU again for another year-long term.

After leaving office as President of Senegal, he was unanimously elected as Secretary-General of Bucharest in September 2006.[17]

Diouf is an Eminent Member of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation.

He is also a member of the Fondation Chirac's honour committee,[18] ever since the foundation was launched in 2008 by former French president Jacques Chirac in order to promote world peace and on the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) International Advisory Board.[19]


Diouf is a very tall man; at 6 ft 6 inches (198 cm) in height.


  1. ^ a b c d e Biography at Socialist Party website (French).
  2. ^ a b c Rake, African Leaders: Guiding the New Millinium, p. 193. Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2001.
  3. ^ Rake, African Leaders: Guiding the New Millinium, p. 193. Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2001.
  4. ^ Ungar, Africa: The People and Politics of an Emerging Continent, p. 346. Simon and Schusyer, Inc, 1978.
  5. ^ Rake, African Leaders: Guiding the New Millinium, p. 194. Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2001.
  6. ^ Arnold, Africa: A Modern History, p. 688. Atlantic Books, 2005.
  7. ^ Rake, African Leaders: Guiding the New Millinium, p. 195. Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2001.
  8. ^ Meredith, The Fate of Africa, p.367. Published by PublicAffaires, 2005.
  9. ^ a b Elections in Senegal, African Elections Database.
  10. ^ Human Rights in Developing Countries Yearbook 1997, page 276.
  11. ^ Rake, African Leaders: Guiding the New Millinium, p. 196. Scarecrow Press, Inc, 2001.
  12. ^ a b Page on the PS at party website (French).
  13. ^ a b "Abdou Diouf, premier francophone",, October 20, 2002 (French).
  14. ^ "Biographie de Monsieur Abdou Diouf", (French).
  15. ^ "Francophone summit adopts declaration, elects new OIF head", Radio France Internationale, October 20, 2002.
  17. ^ "Diouf re-elected OIF Secretary General for four years", Angola Press Agency, September 30, 2006.
  18. ^ Fondation Chirac's honour committee
  19. ^

External links

Political offices
Title last held by
Mamadou Dia
Prime Minister of Senegal
Succeeded by
Habib Thiam
Preceded by
Léopold Sédar Senghor
President of Senegal
Succeeded by
Abdoulaye Wade
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Julius Nyerere
Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Preceded by
Ibrahim Babangida
Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Hosni Mubarak
Preceded by
Dawda Jawara
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Nicéphore Soglo
Preceded by
Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Secretary General of the La Francophonie
Succeeded by
Michaëlle Jean
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