Senegal: the president wants to restore the post of Prime Minister


« Qhen one aspires to emergence and one is held by the imperative of the result, the urgency of the tasks to be accomplished requires diligence in the work. What needs to be done today cannot be put off until tomorrow. This is the course I intend to set for the teams who will accompany me in this new momentum of transformative reforms ”, it is with these words that Senegalese President Macky Sall justified his desire to do without Prime Minister, the day after his re-election. (with 58.26%) for a second term, in February 2019. Objective stated: to be more efficient. In a context of protests and to everyone’s surprise, this controversial reform was immediately approved by the National Assembly, to the chagrin of the president’s detractors.

A little over two years later, the Head of State is on the way to going the other way. On Wednesday, November 24, the Council of Ministers said in a statement that it had adopted a draft revision of the Constitution aimed at restoring the post. This revision will reintroduce the government’s responsibility to the National Assembly, which was abolished at the same time as the post of Prime Minister in 2019, and will restore the presidential power to dissolve the National Assembly, said the Council of Ministers.

READ ALSOSenegal: “There is no reason for the ruling coalition to celebrate 2019”

Backpedaling

The text will be submitted under an urgent procedure from November 30 to the Assembly, where the president has the majority. The project is introduced in a delicate political and social context. The president faced riots in March that left at least a dozen dead. The conditions of economic crisis which have contributed to this unprecedented challenge for years have hardly improved in the meantime despite the remoteness of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Tensions reappeared recently with the approach of local elections in January 2022. These must be followed by legislative elections. Critics of Macky Sall and political analysts accuse him of a lonely, if not authoritarian exercise of power which would have fueled the exasperation in March.

Already in 2019, the opposition and part of civil society denounced the abolition of the post of Prime Minister as an attempt to seize power on the part of Macky Sall. They criticized him in particular for the fact that he had never mentioned such a reform during his victorious presidential campaign and had announced it two days after taking the oath for a second term. Once again, the Presidency did not publicly issue any warning signs.

In 2019, the government justified the reform by the desire to remove administrative bottlenecks in order to accelerate the economic transformations of this poor West African country. Restoring the post of Prime Minister comes “to adapt the organization of the executive power to a new economic and socio-political environment”, says the Council of Ministers.

READ ALSOSenegal – Macky Sall: “We are in the spirit of a true partnership”

Priorities are piling up

A government official also spoke on condition of anonymity to AFP the recognition of the weight of government coordination tasks, and the need for another institutional organization. Especially since President Sall could be heavily monopolized by the presidency of the African Union which he will assume in 2022 and for which he is already preparing the broad outlines. He is due to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo these days, where he will meet President Tshisekedi, currently the head of the AU.

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Before him, Léopold Sédar Senghor, in 1963, in the context of strong opposition to Mamadou Dia, then Abdou Diouf, between 1983 and 1991, had both already tried the experiment.

READ ALSOSenegal: “We must rethink the whole system collectively”


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