Category Archives: Senegal


Senegal – Congress passes constitutional reform

In Senegal, the president has managed to pass the constitutional reform that he proposed.

In addition to the abolition of the post of Vice President, President Sall wanted to abolish the Senate. However, last week the Senate refused to vote itself out of existence and did not approve the constitutional law.

Very quickly, President Sall convened a Congress of both houses of parliament. The Congress comprised 100 Senators and 150 deputies. For the constitutional law to be passed, a three-fifths majority was required, or 150 votes.

The Congress convened yesterday. There is a report in French from Le Soleil here. A total of 176 members of the Congress voted for the reform. Therefore, it was easily passed.

Senegal – New president tries to change the constitution

Macky Sall was elected president of Senegal in March 2012. His victory was noteworthy, given the hold his main opponent, Abdoulaye Wade, had over the system. However, since his election President Sall has moved quite slowly. For example, the new prime minister, Abdoul Mbaye, was appointed in early April, but he only delivered his general policy declaration to parliament earlier this month.

Anyway, President Sall now seems to be moving more quickly. At the end of last month he announced that he would present two constitutional amendments, one abolishing the post of Vice President and the other abolishing the Senate.

The abolition of the vice-presidency seemed to cause very little comment. The position was introduced towards the end of the President’s Wade’s second term and was interpreted as an attempt by the incumbent president to find a way of appointing his son as vice president and, therefore, creating a dynasty. In fact, even though the reform was passed by the compliant parliament, President Wade never appointed a vice president, so unpopular was his son and the reform in general.

The creation (or re-creation) of the Senate was also the result of a constitutional amendment by President Wade. It was reintroduced in 2007. In the only Senate election since then, Wade’s supporters won 34 of the 35 elected seats. The other 65 senators were appointed by the former president! So, it is fair to say that the Senate had a pro-Wade majority.

Perhaps for this reason, President Sall announced its abolition. The constitutional amendment to do so was passed by the National Assembly but towards the end of last week, the Senate refused to vote itself out of existence. So, this reform is currently stalled.

President Sall now has two options. He can submit the reform to abolish the Senate to a referendum, or he can convene a Congress of the two houses of parliament. At such a Congress, a three-fifths majority is required for the passage of the amendment. President Sall may just have the votes to secure such a majority, but it is by no means guaranteed.

In addition, President Sall has just announced the creation of a special commission for the ‘consolidation of the country’s institutions’. The commission is charged with coming up with ideas for further institutional reform.

Senegal has had an almost non-stop process of constitutional reform since 2001. It seems as if this process is about to continue.

Senegal – Legislative election

Senegal held its legislative election last weekend. The election took place just over three months after the presidential election, which saw the defeat of the incumbent, Abdoulaye Wade, and the election of Macky Sall.

At the legislative election, the new president was supported by the Benno Bokk Yaakaar (United in Hope) coalition. The BBY coalition won largely victorious. The vote share has not been made public, but the seat distribution has been announced:

  • Benno Bokk Yaakaar, 119
  • Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS, party of former president Wade), 12
  • Bes du Niak (religious party), 4
  • Bokk Gis Gis (split from PDS), 4
  • Parti de la Vérité pour le Développement, 2
  • Mouvement de la réforme pour le développement social, 2
  • 7 others, 1 each

So, even if the BBY coalition is likely to splinter over time, there is a large majority for the new president at the moment. Importantly, as far as he is concerned, the former ruling party, the PDS, returned only a very small number of seats. So, the supporters of former president Wade are unlikely to be able to disrupt the system.

So far, therefore, Senegal’s second alternation in power has gone very smoothly.

Senegal – PM

The new president of Senegal, Macky Sall, has appointed his PM. It is Abdoul Mbaye. He is a banker, who is classed by as non-party. The full list of ministers in the new government is available here. Interestingly, Youssou Ndour has been appointed as Minister of Culture.

The final results of the second round of the presidential election have been officially announced. This was the outcome:

Macky Sall – 65.8%
Abdoulye Wade – 34.2%

Turnout 55%.

Senegal – Presidential election 2nd round

The second round of the presidential election in Senegal took place on 25 March. The final result has not yet been announced. However, incumbent president, Abdoulaye Wade, has conceded defeat.

Almost immediately following the close of the polls, President Wade called his rival, Macky Sall, and congratulated him on his success. In addition, President Wade made a formal declaration conceding defeat. The text, in French, is available here.

Legislative elections will be held in June. These correspond to what Matthew Shugart calls a honeymoon election. So, we would expect Macky Sall’s supporters to do well.

However, a word of caution. The new president was formerly a member of Wade’s PDS party. He does not have a strong party organisation supporting him. So, the real issue will be whether Wade’s PDS (and its wider so-called Sopi coalition partners) migrate en masse to Macky Sall, or whether they act as an opposition. Party loyalties are weak and the promise of material reward from a new president is strong. So, we would probably expect Sall’s supporters to do well. That said, it is worth remembering that Sall only on 27% of the vote at the first ballot. There is a least the possibility that President Sall may find it difficult to work with the new legislature when it is elected.


Senegal – Presidential election

The first round of the presidential election in Senegal took place on 26 February. The run up to the election had been marked by violence between supporters of incumbent president, Abdoulaye Wade, and anti-Wade supporters. However, the ballot itself seems to have been conducted well. Moreover, given Wade was not elected at the first ballot and campaigning for the second ballot has, so far, been peaceful, the election is being considered as a model for the continent.

Anyway, according to the national press agency, here is the result of the first ballot:

Abdoulaye Wade : 942,546 (34.82%)
Macky Sall : 719,369 (26.57%)
Moustapha Niasse : 357,347 (13.20%)
Ousmane Tanor Dieng : 305,980 (11.30%)
Idrissa Seck : 212,848 (7.86%)
Cheikh Abiboulah Dièye : 52,196 (1.93%)
Ibrahima Fall : 48,950 (1.81%)
Cheikh Tidiane Gadio : 26,667 (0.99%)
Mor Dieng : 11,399 (0.42%)
Djibril Ngom : 10,189 (0.38%)
Oumar Khassimou Dia : 6,472 (0.24%)
Amsatou Sow Sidibé : 5,166 (0.19%)
Doudou Ndoye : 4,574 (0.17%)
Diouma Diakhaté : 3,353 (0.12%).

The turnout was 51.58%

So, there will be a second ballot on 18 March. President’s Wade’s challenger is Macky Sall. He was formerly an ally of Wade. He was PM from April 2004-June 2007 and was President of the National Assembly from June 2007-November 2008. By that time, though, his relationship with Wade had broken down. Wade’s supporters in the Assembly voted to reduce the term of the President of the National Assembly from 5 years to 1 year. Consequently, Sall resigned both from the president’s PDS party and from the Assembly itself. Sall outperformed two previous PMs under Wade, Moustapha Niasse and Idriss Seck. Both stood against Wade in 2007.

Sall stands a real chance of winning at the second ballot. If he does, then it will mirror Wade’s own victory in 2000. There too, the key challenge was to ensure that incumbent president Diouf did not win at the first round. Wade is clearly aware of the parallels. Last year, he tried to introduce a constitutional reform that would have lowered the barrier to victory at the first ballot. The reform was met with popular protests and was withdrawn. Had it been introduced, then Wade would probably have won at the first ballot this time.

Senegal – 14 presidential candidates

The presidential election in Senegal will take place on 26 February. The contest is already proving divisive.

The most recent controversy surrounds the decision by the Constitution Court to validate President Wade’s bid to stand for re-election. He was first elected in 2000. There was then a new constitution in 2001 that limited the president to two terms. Wade made the case that the first time he was elected when there were term limits was in 2007. Therefore, he is entitled to stand again in 2012. The Court, which contains Wade appointees, upheld his candidacy.

Almost as controversially, though, it rejected the candidacy of singer, Youssou N’Dour, who had considerable popular backing.

The Court’s decisions have provoked rioting and a number of deaths. The opposition to Wade is trying to call it a Senegal spring. As things stand, though, the level of public protest does not seem to be great enough to generate regime change. Moreover, an election is very close. So, there is still the hope for many that there will be an electoral transition.

In that regard, the Court did validate the candidacy of many of Wade’s opponents, including three high-profile former prime ministers who have fallen out with the president. The problem for the opposition candidates, though, is that they are hopelessly divided. That said, Wade was unable to pass the reform that would have reduced the first-round threshold to the point where he was virtually guaranteed of being re-elected at the first ballot. In one sense, therefore, the real competition is for second place in the expectation that the opposition to Wade may yet unite at the second ballot and defeat him. This would a highly ironic outcome as it would mirror Wade’s own victory in 2000 against the then long-time leader, Abdou Diouf. However, Wade is likely to try to buy off opposition candidates in between the two ballots to ensure his re-election.

Senegal – Wade threatens early elections

In Senegal, the fallout from President Wade’s aborted constitutional reform is continuing. Today, on the anniversary of the events last month, both pro- and anti-Wade supporters are gathering in rival shows of strength.

Meanwhile, the future ambitions of the president himself are coming into focus. Immediately following the withdrawal of the controversial constitutional amendment, there were rumours, sparked by President Wade’s own comments, that he had decided not to stand for re-election next year. However, he has since appeared on television and declared both that he wants to be a candidate again and that he is willing to hold the election early, indeed within 40-60 days. Presumably, this would mean that he would have to resign, thus provoking an election automatically.

In fairness to Wade, he is still confronting his opponents head-on. He also has the advantage that support for his opponents is fragmented. However, the regime remains very contested and it would not surprise me if there was a real test of democracy in the next few months.

Senegal – Constitutional reform abandoned

Events in Senegal have moved very quickly.

On 16 June the government approved a constitutional law that would have introduced two main changes:

1.) The introduction of a presidential/vice-presidential ticket at the presidential election, which is scheduled for next year. A previous reform introduced the office of vice-president, but it was a presidential appointment and, to date, no-one has been appointed.

2.) A rule whereby the top ticket would be elected at the first ballot if it won 25% of the votes cast.

The text of the proposed reform is available in French here.

The reform provoked an immediate reaction. It was criticised for two reasons. Firstly, there is the suspicion that President Wade was going to run on a ticket with his son, Karim Wade. Bearing in mind that President Wade has just celebrated his 85th birthday and the presidential term is seven years, there is the distinct possibility that his son would have automatically become president during the next presidential term. Secondly, even though Wade is fairly unpopular, the opposition would most likely have been very divided at the first ballot, even if it would also most likely have united against Wade at the second. Therefore, the low threshold was designed to maximise Wade’s chances of being re-elected.

The bill was debated on Wednesday and, given President Wade’s supporters have an overwhelming majority there, it was strongly supported. Yesterday, the bill was debated again. During the debate, there were riots in Dakar and reports of pressure religious leaders. Sensing the approach of a ‘Senegal spring’, at first the government proposed an amendment that got rid of the controversial 25% clause. Later in the day, Jeune Afrique is reporting, the government withdrew the bill altogether.

President Wade’s political tactics almost never surprise me. However, the decision to introduce such a reform surely takes the biscuit.

Senegal – The unbearable lightness of being a minister

There has been yet another government reshuffle in Senegal. The previous one was less than a year ago in June 2010. At that time, I pointed out that ministerial comings-and-goings were commonplace under President Wade. Nothing has happened to change this interpretation.

Since the last post that recorded the changes on 28 June, there have been the following developments:

On 11 September 2010, three ministers had their ministerial portfolios amended
On 4 October 2010, one minister left office and two, one of whom was the president’s son, had their ministerial portfolios amended
On 6 October 2010, a new minister was appointed
On 16 November 2010, one minister left the government and another minister took on board the departing minister’s portfolio
On 6 January 2011, one minister left the government and was replaced by another
On 18 January 2011, the minister who was appointed on 6 January left the government and was replaced by the minister who left the government on 6 January
On 5 May 2011, a minister left the government
On 16 May there was a full reshuffle, including the return of the minister who left on 5 May

Bear in mind that in addition to the formal ministerial changes, there are changes to the various public sector organisations that are attached to the different ministries. These are often the source of important political patronage.

Obviously, behind the formal changes there are lots of political stories. The role of the president’s son, Karim Wade, has been hotly debated in Senegal. The fact that certain organisations were taken away from his control last year was taken as a sign that President Wade was trying to offset some of the criticisms that had been made. The events in January 2011 concerned the role of Aminata Tall, another high-profile figure in the presidential administration. She took her ministerial appointment in January as a slight to her reputation and refused to accept the position. Having since broken with President Wade, there is now talk that she may stand at the next presidential election, which is scheduled for next year.

Will President Wade, who is 85, run again in 2012? It is possible. The constant reshuffles seem to be his way of trying to constantly maximise political support.

The information on government changes is taken from the official Senegalese government website.