Senegalese intellectuals, especially members of the progressive elite and sections of the enlightened masses in the country, are clearly disappointed following Macky Sall’s much-anticipated announcement of a new government.
After the appointment of Amadou Ba as the country’s new Prime Minister, there was palpable excitement that the unveiling of a new government will follow soon after, as evident in the debates on Senegalese private television talk shows.
It was widely expected that the composition of any new government announced by the new prime minister would reflect the feelings of the Senegalese voters.
This perception was based on the results of local government and legislative elections this year, which showed that the ruling coalition government in Dakar has lost popularity.
In fact, for the first time in Senegal’s political history, the ruling government lost its majority in the country’s National Assembly.
However, when the members of the new government was announced – added to the fact that the time of releasing the communique was much later than announced – the disappointment was visible on television.
Viewers of popular Senegalese television channels – all in “Edition Special” mode – could see that all went quiet soon after the announcement, as the tv talk show hosts disappeared and must have retired early that night, since there was nothing exciting to discuss about the composition of the new government in Dakar.
Indeed, come the next evening on the next day, television pundits and commentators were largely agreed that Sall has largely disappointed and not met the expectations of the Senegalese people.
It was expected that because of the difficult socio-economic situation in Senegal, Sall would give them a government which exhibited a desire on his part to foster national unity.
The expectation was also that because of the context of post-Covid pandemic recovery which has been derailed by the Russia-Ukraine war, Macky Sall will produced a much-trimmed government and not the bloated Cabinet he presented to the Senegalese nation.
Generally, it was further anticipated that Sall will come up with a government which will make possible the emergence of a bipartisan effort to address the pressing economic and social challenges confronting the country.
Unfortunately, what Senegalese got from Macky Sall is a government which reveals his determination to pursue self interest and the desires of the sycophants and opportunists who surround him.
Indeed, to the keen observer of Senegalese politics, the look of the new government is confirmation that President Macky Sall intends to seek a controversial third term in office, come 2024.
To buttress their arguments, tv pundits point out that Macky Sall recently appointed a trusted person to the vacant post of head of Senegal’s constitutional council – which will vet the applicants to be presidential candidates in the scheduled election in 2024.
They also cite the fact that the minister of Justice in the new government, Ismailia Madior Fall, is a jurist who has openly said that if Sall so desires he could seek a third term presidential mandate.
His new minister of Tourism, Mam Mbaye Niang, is another staunch advocate and has been publicly saying Sall is elgible to go for a third term.
Jurists in Senegal are generally divided on whether or not the country’s constitution allows Sall to run for a third term in office.
Moreover, this new government in Senegal comes soon after the Senegalese state blocked the convening of an international festival in Dakar organized by campaigners for adoption of presidential term limits in Africa.
What makes matters more outrageous is the fact that the event was slated to be staged at a local hotel – which is a private place and not in public space – by the organizers. Thus that the government of Macky Sall would go that far is definitely shocking.
The organizers are mainly artistes and human rights activists calling for limiting presidents in Africa to a mandatory two terms in office.
The Senegalese government of Macky Sall is authoritarian in nature even though it is always proclaiming that Senegal is a democratic state.
It prohibited the organizers of the advocacy festival from holding the event on the basis that it could cause a breach of the peace.
Yet such prohibition orders are commonplace in Dakar, where Sall’s government is fond of trampling on the civil rights of the Senegalese people with impunity.
Indeed, it is frequently acting contrary to the Senegalese constitution which provides for peaceful protest, assembly, freedom of expression and conscience; and has been doing so with impunity.
The Senegal’s constitution guarantees these freedoms, and all that is required is to inform the authorities and give them sufficient notice of intent to hold a peaceful public procession or protest march to express one’s grievances.
In a previous article we had said that Gambians must brace themselves for the explosion of a time bomb in Senegal because of Macky Sall’s authoritarian ways.
In fact, the situation is more volatile now after Macky Sall has now revealed his true intentions, which by the way are inimical to the true interest of Senegambians.
It would be recalled that recently it was reported by the news media that Senegal, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire were the three states which voted against ECOWAS adopting a presidential two-term limit.
Sall’s latest moves will only serve to alert activists engaged in promoting good governance and human rights defenders in Senegal and the sub region that now is the time to more than ever before and we must all be prepared to participate in the big fight to safeguard the sovereignty of the people.
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