Senegal Names New Government

Senegal’s new government, headed by President Bassirou Diomaye Faye and Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko, has announced its formation bringing with it a number of new faces, as well as reappointing several ministers from the previous administration.

A New Government

PM Sonko presented President Faye with his list of ministers he was seeking to appoint, which was approved by the President. PM Sonko appointed 25 different people as ministers, alongside five different Secretaries of State. Half of those who were appointed were former members of PM Sonko’s PASTEF party, which had been dissolved by the previous government in July of 2023.

President Faye (front centre) arriving at Senegal’s Presidential Palace alongside PM Sonko (left) on March 28th, 2024, ahead of the President’s April 2nd inauguration (Photo from the Senegalese Presidential Bureau via Reuters).

Notably, the new government also appoints two prominent military members to some important positions within the government. General Birame Diop has been appointed as the head of the nation’s armed forces, whereas General Jean-Baptiste Tine has been named as the Interior Minister. The military has historically been a politically neutral entity within Senegal, and thus their appointment is largely being seen as an attempt at putting politically neutral figures in government.

Senegal’s new administration, formed by the opposition, has promised a radically different government. Due to these promises, fears have arisen that it could potentially cause instability if the difference is too great, and the appointment of the two generals’ is likely an attempt to mitigate that.

Serigne Gueye Diop, a close advisor to former President Macky Sall, has been appointed as Senegal’s Minister of Industry and Trade. Diop is one of several ministers from the previous administration that have made their way into President Faye’s new government.

Yacine Fall, the former Vice President of PM Sonko’s PASTEF party, has been named as the Minister of African Integration and Foreign Affairs. Birame Souleye Diop, another former PASTEF member who chaired the parliamentary group of Senegal’s primary opposition coalition, has been appointed as the Minister of Energy, Petroleum and Mines, a very important post in Senegal’s future. Abdourahmane Sarr has been appointed as the Minister of the Economy, another vital ministry.

Notably, the new government only has four women within its ministerial ranks, less than previous administrations.

Future Challenges

President Faye’s victory in the March 24th election marks a significant moment for Senegal’s opposition. It will also serve as a proving ground for a number of politicians who have never before held office. One such politician is President Faye himself, who had never been elected to any level of office prior to his first round victory in the Presidential election.

Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye pictured during his inauguration ceremony on April 2nd, 2024 (Photo from Reuters).

Of particular importance are the posts of Abdourahmane Sarr as the Minister of the Economy, and Birame Souleye Diop as the Minister of Energy, Petroleum and Mines.

The two ministries are heavily related to several of President Faye’s key campaign promises.

Concerning the ministry of energy, petroleum, and mines, one of President Faye’s promises was to renegotiate the nations’ energy, defence, and mining contracts in order to better suit the needs of Senegal’s population, and provide better employment opportunities.

Senegal is set to begin the production of oil and gas within 2024. There have been concerns amongst large portions of the population that the extreme economic potential that this production will bring will not be properly captivated by the contracts that are already put into place, and thus the Senegalese people will not yield as many benefits from the projects as they could.

The contracts for the production of oil and gas will be a key target for President Faye’s sought after renegotiations, bringing a large amount of importance to Minister Diop’s post.

One of President Faye’s most important campaign promises was to tackle youth unemployment, an extremely pressing issue that many within Senegal feel was ignored by President Sall’s administration.

Senegal has an unemployment rate of approximately 20%, which is primarily made up of youth, with around 50% of Senegal’s population being aged 25 or younger.

President Faye’s promise to tackle this issue brings great importance to the post of Minister Sarr. Youth unemployment is a pressing issue in many African nations, which have a rapidly increasing population.

The renegotiation of contracts is to be related to President Faye’s plan of tackling youth unemployment. One of the worries people have about the present deal is that it will not provide enough employment opportunities for Senegalese citizens.

Another key aspect of Minister Sarr’s post is President Faye’s plan to potentially withdraw from the West African Franc (CFA). The CFA is a regional currency used by a number of different West African nations that are former colonies of France.

In his campaign, President Faye promised to withdraw from the currency and create Senegal’s own national currency, if the CFA cannot be reformed.

Many view the CFA as a remnant of France’s colonial administration, and thus view the CFA as neo-colonial.

France’s general relationship with Senegal is likely to come under review as well. President Faye had promised a “reexamination” of the nation’s relationship with France, who many within Senegal do not view favourably, accusing them of being neo-colonialist.

A Bright Future

The future that President Faye and PM Sonko have promised is a bright one, one free of the corruption and economic problems that plague Senegal. If the two are able to succeed in their plan, it would represent a significant turnaround for Senegal. Much of the population has expressed frustrations with the Senegalese establishment, an establishment that President Faye said has failed to address the true needs of the population.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.


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