Abdou Diouf (US: /ˈɑːbd diˈf/ (listen) AHB-doo dee-OOF; Serer: Abdu Juuf; born 7 September 1935)[1] is a Senegalese politician who was the second President of Senegal, in office from January 1981 to April 2000.

Abdou Diouf
Abdou Diouf.jpg
Diouf in 2008
2nd Secretary General of La Francophonie
In office
1 January 2003 – 31 December 2014
Preceded byBoutros Boutros-Ghali
Succeeded byMichaëlle Jean
2nd President of Senegal
In office
1 January 1981 – 1 April 2000
Prime MinisterHabib Thiam
Moustapha Niasse
Habib Thiam
Mamadou Lamine Loum
Preceded byLéopold Sédar Senghor
Succeeded byAbdoulaye Wade
1st President of Senegambia
In office
12 December 1981 – 30 September 1989
Vice PresidentDawda Jawara
2nd Prime Minister of Senegal
In office
26 February 1970 – 31 December 1980
PresidentLéopold Sédar Senghor
Preceded byMamadou Dia (1962)
Succeeded byHabib Thiam
Personal details
Born (1935-09-07) 7 September 1935 (age 87)
Louga, French West Africa
(now Senegal)
Political partySocialist Party
SpouseElizabeth Diouf
Alma materUniversity of Dakar
Pantheon-Sorbonne University

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 lifeEdit

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.[2]

Political careerEdit

Diouf in 1962

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 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 electionsEdit

Diouf in 1988

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 AIDSEdit

In 1986, Diouf began an anti-AIDS program in Senegal, before the virus was able to take off in earnest. He used the media and schools to promote safe-sex messages and required prostitutes to be registered. He also encouraged civic organizations and both 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 percent.[8]

1993 and 2000 electionsEdit

George and Barbara Bush host Abdou and Elizabeth Diouf at the White House, 1991

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 even said he should receive a Nobel Peace Prize for leaving without violence.[11]

Socialist Party leadershipEdit

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 organizationsEdit

Diouf in 2015

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,[13][14] following the withdrawal of the only other candidate, Henri Lopes of the Republic of the Congo.[13][15] Diouf took office as Secretary-General on January 1, 2003.[16] He was re-elected as Secretary-General for another four years at the organization's summit in 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] Additionally, he is one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.[20]

Honours and decorationsEdit

Ribbon bar Country Honour
  Senegal Grand Cross of the National Order of the Lion
  Senegal Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit
  France Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
  Canada Grand officier of the National Order of Quebec
  DR Congo Grand Cordon of the National Order of the Leopard
  Organisation internationale de la Francophonie Grand Cross of the Order of La Pléiade
  United Kingdom Grand officier of the Order of the British Empire
  South Africa Grand Cross of the Order of Good Hope
  Austria Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
  Portugal Grand Cross of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword
  Libya Grand Cordon of the Order of the Grand Conqueror


  1. ^ a b c d e Biography at Socialist Party website Archived 21 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in 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, Martin (2005). The Fate of Africa. PublicAffairs. p. 367.
  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 Archived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (in French).
  13. ^ a b "Abdou Diouf, premier francophone", Afrik.com, October 20, 2002 (in French).
  14. ^ "Biographie de Monsieur Abdou Diouf" Archived April 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, francophonie.org (in French).
  15. ^ "Francophone summit adopts declaration, elects new OIF head", Radio France Internationale, October 20, 2002.
  16. ^ "RAPPORT DU SECRETAIRE GENERAL DE LA FRANCOPHONIE 2002-2004" Archived 5 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, francophonie.org (in French).
  17. ^ "Diouf re-elected OIF Secretary General for four years" Archived October 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Angola Press Agency, September 30, 2006.
  18. ^ "Honor Committee". Fondation Chirac. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  19. ^ "IMPACT- International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats". www.impact-alliance.org. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Abdou Diouf | RSF".

External linksEdit

Political offices
Title last held by
Mamadou Dia
Prime Minister of Senegal
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Senegal
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary General of the La Francophonie
Succeeded by