Newly elected Senegalese president Macky Sall has named his cabinet.
The headline appointment is popular singer Youssou N’Dour, who was one of the most vocal opponents of former president Abdoulaye Wade — when Sall emerged as the sole challenger to Wade in the second round of the presidential election, N’Dour and the entire spectrum of Wade opposition enthusiastically supported Sall. N’Dour had attempted to run for president in the March vote, but was disqualified prior to the election. He will serve as minister of culture and tourism.
The cabinet contains just 25 appointees, down from the 40 in Wade’s prior cabinet.
Abdoul Mbaye — a former banker and technocrat with no party affiliation — will serve as Sall’s first prime minister.
Amadou Kane, a former banker with Senegal’s branch of BNP Paribas, previously head of the International Bank for Trade and Industry of Senegal and a former official with the West African Development Bank, will serve as finance minister.
Sall ally Alioune Badara Cissé will be the new foreign minister.
Just eight days after a second-round runoff in which Macky Sall (above, right) defeated incumbent Abdoulaye Wade by nearly a two-to-one margin, Sall was sworn in hours ago as Senegal’s new president.
The inauguration is the culmination of a sometimes tumultuous campaign that threatened to explode into a constitutional crisis — Wade had opted to run for a controversial third term, notwithstanding a constitutional ban (passed earlier by Wade himself) limiting the president to two terms. Notwithstanding the fact that popular candidates were refused an opportunity to run and Senegalese police used force in putting down protests in advance of the first round of the vote (leading to up to six deaths), the peaceful transfer of power marks the second such transfer in 12 years and further strengthens Senegal’s democratic tradition — even as its neighboring Mali descends into post-coup confusion.
Notwithstanding the fact that Senegal’s opposition put all of its support behind Sall in the second round, Sall remains a creature of the Senegalese establishment and was Wade’s one-time right-hand man. With a stagnant economy, high food and electricity prices and moderate corruption, Sall’s inauguration alone — however much a victory for democratic legitimacy — will not be enough to meet the opposition’s fairly high expectations.
Politically, Sall’s first challenge will be to secure victory in Senegal’s June 17 parliamentary elections — Wade’s Parti Démocratique Sénégalais won the 2007 legislative elections, taking 131 of 150 seats, after opposition candidates boycotted Wade’s efforts to undermine free and fair elections.
One question is whether the popular singer Youssou N’Dour (above, left) — who attempted to run for president, but was not permitted by Wade’s government — will serve in Sall’s administration, as minister of culture or otherwise.
Sall’s first interview with the international media is here.
AllAfrica coverage of Senegal’s future here.
With less than one week to go until Senegal’s presidential runoff, the campaign’s narrative since the end of the first round has consistently been one of the opposition mobilizing behind the candidacy of former prime minister Macky Sall and against current president Abdoulaye Wade.
Wade won the first round of the election on February 26 with 34.8% of the vote to Sall’s 26.6%.
In the meanwhile, all 12 of the defeated candidates have endorsed Sall, including former prime minister Moustapha Niasse, who finished in third place, Parti Socialiste candidate Ousamne Tanor Dieng, who finished in fourth place and Idrissa Seck, also a former prime minister, who finished in fifth place. Sall, together with the 12 former candidates, joined for a rally last Sunday in Obelisk Square in Dakar, the site of several violent anti-Wade protests in advance of the first round vote. Sall and the former candidates have formed the makeshift Alliance of Forces for Change in advance of Sunday’s runoff.
Prominent — and popular — Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, who was refused a spot on the ballot in advance of the first round, has endorsed Sall as well. And so has the M23 movement, by and large — the loose coalition that came together to oppose Wade’s arguably unconstitutional run for a third term. Although the M23 movement did not endorse any first-round candidate, it has mobilized behind Sall as the anti-Wade candidate.
The tense and sometimes violent protests leading up the the first round have now largely replaced by a triumphant opposition confident of victory. Sall is popular in both Dakar and the countryside, and, with so much of the opposition to Wade lining up behind Sall, it seems more likely than not that Sall will win the runoff. Continue reading Senegal turns to runoff vote →
More unrest today from Senegal, where protestors gathered in defiance of a government ban in opposition to President Abdoulaye Wade, who seeking a third term in the February 26 presidential election.
Wade argues that constitutional changes in 2001 limiting presidents to two terms in office do not apply to him because they were adopted only in the middle of his administration — the nation’s court approved his reelection bid in January, even as it disqualified opposition candidates such as popular Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour. Indeed, the rapper-led “Fed Up” coalition and the “m23” coalition of opposition parties have organized protests, but police are refusing to authorize permits on the basis of public security.
Already, four people are dead, and Senegal’s capital, Dakar, is choked with tear gas. Not an auspicious omen for the next nine days or for the post-election governance of Senegal, which has traditionally been more a model of strong governance and economic strength in Africa that a model of political unrest.