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Friday, September 6, 2013

New Senegal PM represents power consolidation by president

Mr Sall appointed former justice minister Aminata Toure to replace Abdoul Mbaye after dismissing the government, which had been in office for 17 months, without explanation on Sunday.
"The reshuffle is a refocusing. The epicentre of power is no longer scattered but is in the APR", said Dakar-based analyst Babacar Justin Ndiaye, referring to Sall's Alliance for the Republic party.
Ms Toure, a 50-year-old senior member of the APR hierarchy and the second woman to occupy the post of prime minister in Senegal, is being characterised as Sall's loyalist antidote to Mbaye, a former banker and technocrat who had no political allegiance to any party.
Renowned for his serious manner and rigour, the 60-year-old was the first leader since the era of Abdoulaye Wade, who was the president of Senegal between 2000 and 2012.
Mr Mbaye led a broad coalition government of 30 ministers of all political hues, including singer Youssou N'Dour, a Senegal icon, who on Monday was appointed advisor to the president with the rank of minister.
In contrast, Toure is "a political prime minister who is the head of a political team", Ndiaye said.
The media has greeted Toure's elevation with a degree of scepticism, noting that the appointment marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of Sall.
Cost of living
The privately-owned daily L'Observateur said in an editorial on Tuesday that the move showed the APR was "imposing itself on the government".
"In a team of 32, Macky Sall's party occupies half the seats in the Council of Ministers. At least 15 APR leaders are on the list of ministers, which represents a solution to a grievance expressed at the highest levels of the party," it said.
President Sall defeated the former ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) in presidential elections last year, in a poll marred by violence over Wade's efforts to seek a third term in office.
The new leader vowed to put "the homeland before party", setting out his priorities to tackle unemployment, the high cost of living and widespread power cuts.
But he has disappointed pundits and the electorate alike, with many saying the pace of change during his first 17 months has been too slow, and analysts believe Mbaye has taken the fall as Sall attempts to distance himself from his shortcomings.
The Quotidien newspaper said the new prime minister could claim "to have reserved an important place for her party colleagues, before thinking about the 'homeland'".
Analyst Ndiaye said the new administration was formed primarily to halt the "unravelling" of Sall's popularity ahead of countrywide local elections scheduled for March next year.
Mr Sall has repeatedly announced measures to lower the price of staples such as rice, oil and milk, but day-to-day living costs remain beyond the reach of large swathes of the population.
Power cuts still cripple daily life and deadly floods in Dakar and provincial cities remain a perennial problem.
"The Senegalese are disappointed. They are discouraged and are waiting for the realisation of fabulous promises made by the candidate Macky Sall," senior opposition leader Modou Diagne Fada was quoted as saying in the local media.
Malick Mbaye, an official of the president's coalition, said however the reshuffle showed that the president had "received the message of the people loud and clear".
"He has understood that the pace must be accelerated in terms of the realisation and satisfaction of the concerns of the Senegalese people. Admittedly, the level of satisfaction of the population is relatively low."

Africa  Review

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