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.

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