President Macky Sall Facing the Equation of his Succession
On the 5th of March 2019, the Constitutional Council announced the final official results of the Senegalese presidential election. The outgoing president, Macky Sall, was re-elected in the first round with 58.26% of the vote, followed by former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, 20.51%, and Ousmane Sonko, Pastef's leader, 15.67%. On the day of his inauguration, at a time when we least expected it, Macky Sall opened his arms to the opposition and laid the groundwork for a political dialogue, he, who has been acclaimed by voters and has a comfortable parliamentary majority. Why did he feel the need to do this? The reason can only be strategic.
By opening up to other political actors, the head of state sends a signal to the public that he is not the hermetic man his detractors want people to believe. At the same time, it creates a quiet political climate conducive to foreign investment, but also gives it time, while the actors in the political dialogue are trying to find strong political consensus and the best possible approach to prepare its succession. President Macky Sall cannot run for president in 2024 if one relies on the provisions of the Senegalese Constitution and his own statements repeated several times. This raises the question of his succession and the future of his party, the Alliance for the Republic (APR). It is very likely that in the next 24 months the president will appoint a successor within the presidential movement.
For the survival of his party, President Macky Sall will be almost obliged to remain president of APR. He should then look for a candidate who could replace him as the head of the country, continue his mission and cover his back.Five names are already in the mix: the current Minister of Finance, Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo, the President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESC), Aminata Touré, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amadou Ba, the Secretary General of the Presidency, Mouhammad Boun Abdallah Dionne, and the Minister of Petroleum, Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé. The President's brother, Aliou Sall’s ambition to succeed his brother is unlikely given that Senegalese are not looking for monarchical devolution (succession from father to son or brother to brother). The case of Karim Wade is still fresh in our memories. Also, the current mayor of Guédiawaye is cited in financial scandals brought to light by a BBC report. The five potential candidates to Macky Sall succession, the members of the presidential party, each have their own strengths.
- Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo is loyal to the current head of state. He is also supported by many in the HalPoular community who would not want the presidential seat to escape a member of their community. The problem is that the former tax and domain official does not weigh much on the national and international level.
- Amadou Ba is the former Director of Taxes and Domains, former Minister of Finance and current head of the Senegalese Diplomacy. He also comes from the HalPoular community and has a significant financial weight. Unfortunately, for him, in Senegal, you have to have a national aura to hope to occupy the presidential chair.
- Mouhammed Boun Abdallah Dionne gets his legitimacy from the fact that he was Macky Sall's Prime Minister & led his strategic plan called the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP). His problem is that he is not known as a charismatic man and is not unanimously accepted, even within the presidential party.
- Former United Nations (UN) official Aminata Touré has the intellectual baggage, background and connections to be President of the Republic. She served as UN official for 18 years and campaign manager for Macky Sall in 2012. She is well known in Senegal and abroad. However, despite its traditional democratic spirit, Senegal remains a country in which 95% of the population has their temporal and spiritual links to Islam. In this country, known for its brotherly Islam, politicians seeking power have always felt it was their duty to have the blessing of Maraboutic families. Maraboutic families do not yet have the open-mindedness to the point of supporting a woman ahead of men. Unfortunately, this mentality is also rooted in the mindset of many Senegalese, and therefore potential voters.
- Many believe that the current Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, is the preferred candidate, if not the successor of the current President of the Republic. He is the Director General of Customs, former Minister of the Budget and former Director of the National Electricity Company (Senelec), who managed to make load-shedding a bad memory. Senegalese people see him as a technocrat and a hard worker who is very far from the race of professional politicians. In the eyes of many Senegalese, he is credible. He is a man who knows the State, a member of the prestigious body of State Inspectors General (IGE) and Macky Sall’s former Chief of Staff. Makhtar Cissé is also a former child-troop who can count on the support of the much-organised association of former graduates of the Saint-Louis Military Prytanée who have members in all corporations (civilian and military). Another of his strengths is that he has entries in all the Maraboutic families. This is to say that he has strong allies. If he has a disadvantage, it is for not having a political party as an umbrella (he is not officially a member of the APR), a disadvantage he can overcome if President Macky Sall supports him as his successor.
Apart from that, there is still the possibility of dusting off the issue of the liberal family reunification, precisely if none of these 5 candidates manages to gain major popularity in the next 24 months to stand up to opposition candidates. After all, the APR as well as the part of former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck (REWMI) also have roots in the former liberal party of Abdoulaye Wade (Senegalese Democratic Party, PDS). At the moment the PDS is going through a backlash with Karim Wade being chosen by his father as the Deputy National Coordinator, REWMI is losing its luster with many executives who have left and the APR, an unstructured party, undermined by quarrels of positioning, a large liberal coalition could do the job of Macky Sall.
It will then remain to be seen which of the liberal leaders (Idrissa Seck, Pope Diop, Oumar Sarr...) has the best profile to take up the torch that will be left by the current head of state. For the liberal cause, this scenario would certainly be the most desirable.