Amid the plaudits for running a free and (not wholly, but mostly) fair election, Senegal has now turned to the inauguration of its new president, Macky Sall, and the naming of his new cabinet.
While most of the selections have been met with general approval — including the naming of popular singer Youssou N’Dour as minister of culture and tourism.
But in declaring that he would reduce the number of cabinet members from 40 to 25, Sall was bound to anger some of the members of the multi-party coalition that bound together to support him in the second round of the presidential election, and it seems like that’s already happening:
President Sall’s party took the lion’s share and also locked up the key portfolios of foreign affairs, internal affairs, defence and finance. In addition, the party took up ministries other strategic ministries like justice, youth and communications.
Almost immediately, all of the other parties have been unleashing their pent up anger over the distribution of the ministerial posts.
Former premier Moustapha Niasse’s Alliance de Forces du Progrès (AFP), managed to obtain the second highest number ministerial slots – four.
So much for a honeymoon.
One of the key challenges of Sall’s young administration will be to meet the expectations of a coalition whose sole aim was to oust then-incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, and who expect Sall to address more effectively the burden of high fuel and gas prices and corruption. Sall, whose entire political career was spent as Wade’s protegé until 2008, however, remains much more tied to the existing Senegalese political elite than many of the outsiders who supported his campaign.
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.
Macky Sall has won Senegal’s presidential race, and incumbent Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat, paving the way for the second peaceful transfer of power in Senegal in 12 years.
In contrast to the tense — and sometimes violent — days leading up to the first round of the Senegalese vote, the days leading up to the runoff were relatively peaceful as opposition to Wade coalesced around Sall, his former prime minister.
As votes came in Sunday, it became clear that Wade would not muster enough support to win — Wade won the first round with 34.8%, but it appeared that Sall would improve on his second-place 26.6% by consolidating virtually all of the non-Wade voters in the runoff.
A telling headline in Senegal’s Dakar-based Le Quotidien simply proclaimed, “Goodbye Wade!” Continue reading Sall wins Senegalese presidency; Wade concedes defeat →
It’s a busy weekend for world politics!
Tomorrow (March 24) is a big day for anglosphere politics:
- Canada’s New Democratic Party holds its leadership election to replace the late Jack Layton, who led the NDP in 2011 to defeat the Liberal Party to become Canada’s Official Opposition.
- The Australian state of Queensland holds elections, where longtime Labor Party domination (since 1996) will likely come to an end in a key test for both former Labor prime minister (and Queensland native) Kevin Rudd and Labor current prime minister Julie Gillard in the wake of their Labor Party leadership showdown.
On Sunday (March 25), two more elections of note:
- Senegal goes to the polls in a runoff in the presidential election, where former prime minister seems poised to overtake his one-time mentor, incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade. Read Suffragio’s coverage of the election, including the leadup to the first round, here.
- The 1,200-member Elections Committee meets to choose Hong Kong’s new chief executive, which has turned into a fight between Beijing favorite Leung Chun-ying and tycoon developer favorite Henry Tang (the scandal-plagued former Beijing favorite). Read Suffragio’s coverage here.
The BBC today runs a very sharp profile of Macky Sall, who seems likely to defeat incumbent Abdoulaye Wade to become Senegal’s next president.
Sall once served as Wade’s prime minister and protégé before their political break in 2007. After finishing second in the first round of the Senegalese election to Wade last month, the opposition has embraced Sall in order to deny Wade a constitutionally dubious third term.
The profile echoes some of the themes I highlighted yesterday, however, that Sall’s election represents continuity in the West African nation, just the kind of continuity that won’t trigger a constitutional crisis:
“Nobody can dismiss Mr Sall from what this [Mr Wade’s] party has brought in negative terms to the social infrastructure of this country, in terms of destroying the democratic fabric and allowing corruption to develop exponentially,” Senegalese writer and journalist, Adama Gaye, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
“I would not be surprised if people within the liberal party of Abdoulaye Wade join Macky Sall if he wins – and ultimately he will end up running a country with his method,” he said.
“I don’t see him as being different from Abdoulaye Wade – really he is a Wade boy.”
After a decade of economic stagnancy, however, the opposition may find that its support of Sall somewhat unfulfilling if his administration turns out to be Wade-without-Wade.
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 →
The final first-round votes have been announced by the Constitutional Court of Senegal, confirming a second round vote between incumbent Abdoulaye Wade and former prime minister Macky Sall, as predicted in recent days.
As early results indicated, Senegal election officials confirmed today that President Abdoulaye Wade received only 34.8% of the first round vote and will go into a runoff on March 18 against former prime minister Macky Sall, who received 26.5%.
In the ensuing 18 days, the media spotlight will shift to three key questions:
- Can Wade win a runoff vote? Almost two-thirds of the electorate voted against Wade. To win a runoff vote, Wade would have to (i) retain all of his first-round support, (ii) win around one of every four of the anti-Wade voters in the first round and (iii) win more than 50% of any new voters who participate in the second round. This seems like an implausible hurdle for the unpopular incumbent.
- What would Sall do as President? Greater scrutiny will now fall on Sall, his former ties to Wade, his falling out with Wade and charges of money laundering and corruption. He will certainly have to discuss his role in the Wade administration and its lack of policy progress. Already, however, Sall has pledged to abide the two-term presidential limit and has advocated reducing the presidential term back to five years (Wade’s constitutional changes had increased the term to seven).
- Can the opposition effectively unite against Wade? Another prime minister, Moustapha Niasse, placed third with 13.2% of the vote. Niasse is already on record as supporting a unified opposition against Wade, whose candidacy — potentially in violation of the constitutional two-term limit — has sparked protests across the country. The broad-based M23 coalition and other groups are well placed to bring together all of the opposition candidates to discuss a unified left-right front under Sall’s second-round candidacy. Barring any deal between Wade and Sall, it appears very likely that the Wade opposition will be unified, in some degree, behind Sall.
…when the president of the country announces piece-meal election results in a press conference, bypassing the official state apparatus.
For the record, Senegal’s president Abdoulaye Wade declared that he is leading with about half of the votes counted with about 32% to 25% for former prime minister Macky Sall.
UPDATE: Wade has now acknowledged that the race will likely go to a runoff — to be held March 18, in which it is likely that all opposition candidates will form a united front against Wade’s reelection.
Early reports of returns from Senegal’s presidential election yesterday indicate that current president Abdoulaye Wade leads former prime minister Macky Sall in the first-round ballot by only a 24% to 21% margin, although other reports claimed Wade had around 32% to Sall’s 28%.
Without an outright majority, Wade (pictured above, top) would be forced into a runoff with Sall (pictured above, below) — presumably given the massive opposition to Wade’s run on the basis of a constitutional limit of two terms, it can be expected that the opposition, headed by M23 and other umbrella groups, including supporters of Youssou N’Dour (the popular rapper who was not permitted to stand in the presidential election), will unite behind Sall in the second round.
Given Senegal’s tradition as a nation that has generally respected democratic norms — there have been no coups and no civil wars there since independence in 1960 — Wade would presumably recognize a Sall second-round victory and step down from office.
The next key date is Friday, March 2, when official results are announced. Continue reading Senegal: Early returns indicate runoff →
Voters in Senegal go to the polls today to determine whether President Abdoulaye Wade should be given a third term through 2019.
The leadup to the vote has been marked by tense — and sometimes violent — protests by opponents who claim that Wade’s reelection violates constitutional changes that Wade approved in 2001. Wade himself was booed when he went to vote earlier today in his own district.
Thirteen opposition candidates were approved to run against Wade and are expected to split the anti-Wade vote, allowing the current president to score a first-round victory. Other candidates, including popular Senegalese rapper Youssou N’Dour were not permitted to stand for election.
Results will not be released, however, until March 2, and it’s anyone’s guess whether anti-Wade protests will accelerate if, as expected, Wade is announced as the winner.
A compromise by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, under which Wade would agree to serve for just two years if reelected, was rejected yesterday.
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obsanjo arrived today in Dakar as a representative of the Economic Community of West African States to meet with the M23 opposition group, which is protesting Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s bid for a third presidential term as unconstitutional. (Ironically, Wade himself was among those who criticized Obsanjo in 2006 when he sought constitutional changes to allow for a third term as Nigeria’s president).
Meanwhile, technically illegal protests continue in Dakar in advance of Sunday’s vote, with tensions running high and occasionally spilling into deadly violence.
But with five days to go until it appears that the 85-year-old Wade will prevail to “win” a third term in office unitl the year 2019, just how strongly rooted is democracy in Senegal? Continue reading A historical look at Senegalese democracy →
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.
This is one way to protest a president who’s running for a constitutionally dodgy third term.
Abdoulaye Wade, who was once the candidate of hope and change in Senegal when he swept into office with genuine support in 2000, now remains highly controversial as the entrenched and corrupt incumbent in advance of Senegal’s February 26 election.
On the other hand, it seems to have worked for Michael Bloomberg…
New York mayoral shenanigans aside, it’s hard to see how this will arrest an alarming and growing trend away from democratic norms in what has been one of Africa’s relative economic and political success stories.
More background on President Wade, who is seeking a third term, here.