Category Archives: Senegal


Senegal – Another government reshuffle

If there was a World Cup for government reshuffles, then Senegal under President Abdoulaye Wade would surely beat all-comers.

On 24 June a new government was named. The incumbent prime minister, Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye, was reappointed, but there was a considerable turnover of ministers, including a larger number of female ministers.

On 28 June, the first amendment to this government was made. The Minister for Human Rights was replaced. Seneweb reproduces a report claiming that the former minister, who was born in 1984, resigned because she had not yet finished her studies. Apparently, her appointment provoked “hilarity” in the ranks of the ruling PDS party.

Now, such a quick change is hardly unprecedented. However, it corresponds to a certain pattern in Senegal. For example, Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye was named as prime minister on 30 April 2009. In the period to the end of 2009, there were no fewer than nine further ministerial changes, the first of which came on 4 May 2009! In 2000 one minister did not last long enough to attend the first Council of Ministers. By 2005 there had already been six Ministers of Health. Seneweb links to another report, which calculates that overall there have been 122 different ministers since President Wade took office in April 2000.

It might be added that there has also been considerable constitutional instability during Wade’s president. When he took office in 2000, President Wade started work on a new constitution that came into force in January 2001. Since then, I calculate that there have been 15 separate constitutional laws changing ‘Wade’s’ constitution.

Senegal – President Wade to stand again

In Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade has announced that he intends to run for re-election in 2012. The announcement is something of a surprise because the election is still a while off, but also because President Wade will be nearly 86 at the time of the election.

For Jeune Afrique, the logic behind the annnouncement is that it forces the incumbent party to unite behind Wade. Currently, the party is split into different factions, one of which supports President’s Wade’s son, Karim Wade. In addition, an historic leader of the PDS and former presidential adviser, Idrissa Seck, has recently been rehabilitated by President Wade. While this has helped to reconcile certain forces, it has also been the source of new tensions.

Last month President Wade announced the transformation of the incumbent PDS party (Parti démocratique sénégalais – Senegalese Democratic Party) into the PDSL (Parti démocratique sénégalais libéral – Liberal Senegalese Democratic Party). This was an attempt to try to restore the incumbent regime’s fortunes after the disappointing local elections results earlier this year, but the move can also be seen as part of the ongoing machinations regarding the party’s presidential candidate in 2012. My guess is that this will not be last post on this topic.

Senegal – Yet another constitutional amendment (amended)

Senegal is on the way to passing yet another constitutional amendment.

The National Assembly and now the Senate have passed a constitutional reform bill that will create the post of Vice-President of the Republic. Both houses have a huge presidential majority. provides some details of the bill.

The Vice-President is named by the President and the President puts an end to the Vice-President’s functions (i.e. can dismiss the V-P).

The Vice President is the second-ranked person in the state and countersigns presidential decrees.

For the constitutional wonks out there, here is the (correct) text of the bill (this time), thanks, as always, to the ever reliable La Constitution en Afrique:

Article premier : Il est ajouté à l’article 26 de la Constitution les dispositions ci-après :
« Il peut être assisté d’un Vice-président qu’il nomme après consultation du Président du Sénat et Président de l’Assemblée nationale, pour une durée ne pouvant excéder celle de son mandat,
Il met fin à ses fonctions dans les mêmes formes.
Le Vice-président remplit à la date de sa nomination, toutes les conditions posées à l’article 28.
Il occupe, dans l’ordre de préséance, le deuxième rang. Il satisfait aux conditions posées l’article 38 ».
Article 2 : Au second alinéa de l’article 43 de la Constitution, il est ajouté « 26 alinéa 2 à 5, » avant « 45 ».
Article 3 : Le premier alinéa de l’article 50 de la Constitution est remplacé par les dispositions suivantes : « Le Président de la République peut déléguer par décret certains pouvoirs au Vice-président, au Premier ministre ou aux autres membres du Gouvernement à l’exception des pouvoirs prévus aux articles 42, 46, 47, 49, 51, 52, 72, 73, 87, 89, et 90 ».

President Wade reportedly introduced the bill in the context of trying to promote more women to senior positions and names are already circulating.

Le Quotidien has an interview (in French) with El Hadj Mbodj, Professor of Constitutional Law and the University Cheikh A. Diop Dakar. He criticises the reform, not least on the grounds that it has the potential to cause a conflict of competences between the Vice-President and the prime minister. (Professor Mbodj has an excellent French-style training, in which he fails to acknowledge the existence of semi-presidentialism as a constitutional form, but that is by the by. He is surely right on the substance of the issue at hand). He also worries that a further amendment will be made that makes the Vice-President the President’s replacement in case of incapacity etc. Currently, it is the president of the Senate.

Senegal – New PM and local election results

President Abdoulaye Wade has named a new prime minister. Former incumbent, Hadjibou Soumaré, was replaced by Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye. Jeune Afrique reports that Prime Minister Ndiaye was previously President Wade’s directeur de cabinet (chief of staff), the president’s spokesperson, and a minister.

Recall that President Wade’s party was considered to have done quite badly at the local elections last month, losing control of Dakar for example, and so this marks an attempt to relaunch the government.

The full local election results are available online in French at the following website. Basically, they show that President Wade’s Sopi coalition won 48.55%. So, the opposition was in a majority, though Sopi did well in rural areas. However, the opposition was very divided and local/independent candidates picked up a lot of votes: Benno Siggil Senegaal won 27.81%, Dekkal Ngor 2.39% and Liggey Senegaal 2.21%. The turnout was just over 50%.

Senegal – Local elections

Local elections were held in Senegal last week. The opposition to President Abdoulaye Wade did very well. The Benno Siggil Senegaal coalition took control of the majority of towns, including the capital Dakar.

This result marks a major turn of events. In 2007 the opposition boycotted the legislative elections, leaving President Wade’s Sopi coalition, led by the Senegalese Democratic Party, with an overwhelming majority in parliament.

This result is also important for future events because it was the first time that President Wade’s son, Karim Wade, was campaigning quasi-openly as a successor to his father. President Wade is now 82. The next presidential election is due in 2012, or 2014. So, it is likely that President Wade will stand down then. The defeat for his Sopi coalition has already raised questions as to whether his son is the best person to try to succeed him.

Senegal – Constitutional amendment

On 13 October a special parliamentary congress in Senegal adopted another constitutional reform, having only done so as recently as August of this year. On 21 October President Wade promulgated the reforms.

This reform increases the president’s mandate from five years to seven year. La Constitution en Afrique has a resume, in French, of the situation. The site also provides a copy, in French, of the revised up-to-date constitution.

President Abdoulaye Wade was re-elected in 2007, so his mandate currently expires in 2012. It is unclear to me whether the extended mandate will begin after 2012, or whether President Wade can now remain in office until 2014.

Senegal – Constitutional amendment to follow?

Just last week Senegal held a constitutional Congress, its first following a 2007 constitutional amendment. At the Congress, five constitutional reforms were passed, including a French-style parity bill.

Now, another constitutional amendment is on the cards. In May the Council of Ministers agreed a decision to extend the president’s mandate from five to seven years. On Monday, the National Assembly approved a constitutional reform bill to this end, though not without, according to afriqueenligne, a fairly robust debate. As I understand it, the reform bill has to be passed by the Senate and then there would have to be either a referendum or another Congress. So, there is no guarantee that the reform will actually come into effect and, certainly, it is highly contested.

La Constitution en Afrique reminds us that the length of the president’s mandate has been a political football in Senegal. It has gone from 7 years (1960-1963), to 4 years (1963-1967), to 5 years (1967-1992), to 7 years (1992-2001), and then to 5 years again since 2001. Recall that Senegal was semi-presidential from 1970-83 and then again from 1991 onwards.

In 2001, Senegal also changed from a premier-presidential form of semi-presidentialism to a president-parliamentary form (Art. 53).

President Abdoulaye Wade was re-elected in 2007, so his mandate currently expires in 2012. He is rumoured to be grooming his son as a potential successor.