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Abdou Diouf
Abdou Diouf.jpg
Diouf in 2008
2nd Secretary General of La Francophonie
In office
1 January 2003 – 31 December 2014
Preceded by Boutros Boutros-Ghali
Succeeded by Michaëlle Jean
2nd 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
1st President of Senegambia
In office
12 December 1981 – 30 September 1989
Vice President Dawda Jawara
2nd 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 (age 87)
Louga, French West Africa
(now Senegal)
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Diouf
Alma mater University of Dakar
Pantheon-Sorbonne University

Abdou Diouf (US Listeni/ˈɑːbd diˈf/ ahb-DOO-_-DEE-oof; Serer: Abdu Juuf; born 7 September 1935) is a Senegalese politician who was the second President of Senegal, in office from 1981 to 2000.

Diouf is notable both for coming to power by peaceful succession, and leaving willingly after losing the 2000 presidential election to Abdoulaye Wade. He was also the second Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie from January 2003 to December 2014.

Early life

Diouf was born into the Joof family in Louga, Senegal, the child of an Halpulaar 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 in Paris. Diouf graduated in 1959.


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. 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.

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

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.


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.

1993 and 2000 elections

Diouf was reelected in February 1993 with 58% of the vote to a 7-year term; presidential term lengths had been extended by two years in 1991. 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. 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 even said he should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for leaving without violence.

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 at its Thirteenth Congress in 1996, he was moved to the position of President of the PS, while Ousmane Tanor Dieng became First Secretary, having been proposed by Diouf.

International organizations

Both during and after his presidency, Diouf has been active in international organizations. He was President of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from 1985 to 1986. Soon after his election, he made a personal plea to 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. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Goree Institute.

After leaving office as President of Senegal, he was unanimously elected as Secretary-General of La Francophonie at that organization's Ninth Summit on October 20, 2002 in Beirut, following the withdrawal of the only other candidate, Henri Lopes of the Republic of the Congo. Diouf took office as Secretary-General on January 1, 2003. He was re-elected as Secretary-General for another four years at the organization's summit in Bucharest in September 2006.

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

He is also a member of the Fondation Chirac's honour committee, 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. Additionally, he is one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.

Honours and decorations

Ribbon bar Country Honour
SEN Order of the Lion - Grand Cross BAR.png Senegal Grand Cross of the National Order of the Lion
Order of Merit - Grand Cross (Senegal) - ribbon bar.png Senegal Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit
Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg France Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
National Order Quebec ribbon bar.svg Canada Grand officier of the National Order of Quebec
National Order of the Leopard (DR Congo) - ribbon bar.png DR Congo Grand Cordon of the National Order of the Leopard
Ordre de la Pléiade (Francophonie).gif Organisation internationale de la Francophonie Grand Cross of the Order of La Pléiade
OBE Civil ribbon.svg United Kingdom Grand officier of the Order of the British Empire
Ord.GoodHope-ribbon.gif South Africa Grand Cross of the Order of Good Hope
AUT Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria - 1st Class BAR.png Austria Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
PRT Order of Saint James of the Sword - Grand Cross BAR.png Portugal Grand Cross of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword
Order of the Pioneers of Liberia - ribbon bar.png Libya Grand Cordon of the Order of the Grand Conqueror

See also

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