Hurdles lie ahead of new Senegalese government


Bassirou Diomaye Faye

from AMADOU NDIAYE in Dakar, Senegal
Senegal Bureau
DAKAR, (CAJ News) – NOW that the dust has settled on his historic election, the new government of President Bassirou Diomaye Faye must hit the ground running in resolving a myriad of challenges facing Senegal.

Some of these problems bedeviling the West African country are the cause of his months-long spell in prison, mirroring how the country has in recent years been sliding into a dictatorship.

Besides the human rights abuses, the new government has its work cut out resolving corruption, uniting a country that has been divided by unrest over uncertainty as to whether elections were to be held and, reforming the state security apparatus blamed for heavy-handedness during pre-election unrest.

The Senegalese economy is not in good shape either as it confronts headwinds and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic before confronting with multiple shocks, including the halt of the cereal export agreement between Russia and Ukraine, imposition of restrictions on rice exports by India and instability in some neighbouring countries.

Food insecurity and malnutrition ought to be a priority for the new administration as the country is confronted by climate change.

To set the wheels of transformation in motion, the 44-year-old president has established a cabinet of 25 ministers and five junior ministers.

The most prominent appointment in Faye’s cabinet is the ascension of his mentor, Ousmane Sonko, to the position of Prime Minister.

Faye and Sonko were arrested during the final years of the immediate past administration.

Sonko helped catapult Faye to the presidency, as the former was disqualified from the March presidential elections by the courts owing to legal challenges.

Birame Souleye Diop has been appointed Minister of Oil and Energy. He was vice president of the now-dissolved African Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF), of which Faye and Sonko were members.

This portfolio is key to Senegal’s economic prospects, with offshore oil development scheduled for the middle of this year.

“According to the constitution, our natural resources belong to the people. They will receive particular attention from my government,” the president said.

He has also pledged an audit of the oil, gas and mining sectors ahead of the projected boom.

Ousmane Diagne, previously the public prosecutor at the Dakar Court of Appeal, is the new Minister of Justice.

He is tasked with maintaining the credibility of the judiciary, which came unscathed during the pre-electoral crisis by overturning Macky Sall’s postponement of the presidential election until December.

The violence tainted Senegal’s standing as a stable democracy in a region that has seen a spate of coups.

Dozens of people were killed in the protests. Some 1 000 people were jailed.

Faye has named Abdourahmane Sarr as the Economy minister.

Cheikh Diba is the Minister of Finance.

The latter two face an uphill task in reviving investor confidence and stabilising the economy that was not spared the turbulence as violence preceded the elections.

Repression of demonstrations, voluntary blackouts as well as attacks on the media and internet blackouts were frequent since March 2021.

Amnesty International estimates that at least 60 people were fatally shot by security forces during demonstrations.

– CAJ News

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