In Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye imposes a new presidential style

A sobriety which, deliberately, does not go unnoticed

In Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye imposes a new presidential style

A sobriety which, deliberately, does not go unnoticed. Returning from a “working and friendship” visit to Ivory Coast, Tuesday May 7, the new Senegalese president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, set foot on the tarmac of the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor airport in Dakar without traditional ceremonial welcome reserved for heads of state. On April 30, the young leader decided to remove the system which required the mobilization of the high authorities of the Republic, so as not to see his ministers or the boss of the gendarmerie “lose half a day of work”, according to the presidency .

Symbolic, the gesture goes in the direction of the rationalization of the functioning of the State promised by the successor of Macky Sall. This new style of governance carried by Bassirou Diomaye Faye and Ousmane Sonko, his prime minister, is currently reflected mainly in the communication of the executive duo. A careful image even on the basketball courts, where the president appeared on Sunday May 12 with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, who arrived in Dakar the day before for an official visit.

Since the new Senegalese executive took office, announcements have been made to audit the fishing and real estate sectors. But the most anticipated measures concern the increase in prices of basic necessities. An emergency plan against the high cost of living must emerge before May 15.

A highly publicized “surprise visit”

Until then, it is mainly on form that Bassirou Diomaye Faye stands out. A few days after his decision to stop the ongoing construction projects on the Dakar Corniche, the Head of State made a “surprise visit” – but highly publicized – on May 1, to the site of the Mbour 4 subdivision, in the outskirts of the city of Thiès (60 km east of Dakar), in order, explains the presidency, to “resolve the complex problems linked to land disputes”.

The desire for transparency was also reflected in the publication of reports from the Court of Auditors, the National Office for the Fight against Fraud and Corruption (Ofnac) and the Initiative for Transparency in the Extractive Industries ( EITI) whose broadcast had been suspended by the administration of Macky Sall. Written over the last five years, they identify embezzlement, embezzlement of public funds or overbilling, particularly within the Ministry of Health during the Covid-19 crisis or in the management of dialysis kits covered by the 'State.

The previous government “did not want these reports to tarnish the ruling coalition during the campaigns for the local and legislative elections of 2022, then the presidential election of 2024”, presumes Mamadou Mignane Diouf, coordinator of the Senegalese Social Forum: “The new regime, he wants to take the opportunity to strengthen the feeling of confidence while he says he wants to break with corruption. » It remains to be seen what administrative and legal follow-up will be given to these revelations.

For egovernment, it is about setting an example. Ousmane Sonko thus gave members of the government one month from their appointment, on April 5, to resign from their elective mandates. He himself left his position as mayor of Ziguinchor, which he had held since January 2022. Birame Souleye Diop, minister of energy, resigned from his post at the town hall of Thiès-Nord.

“Disparate symbolic measures”

“The break also materializes in the way in which the new government wanted to impose a pace of work at the level of public administration, with the daily biometric clocking, morning and evening, of civil servants,” notes Papa Fara Diallo, teacher-researcher in political science at Gaston-Berger University in Saint-Louis.

But the stated desire for order and transparency has its limits. The program of the African Patriots of Senegal for work, ethics and fraternity (Pastef), the party co-founded by Bassirou Diomaye Faye and Ousmane Sonko, planned to establish calls for applications for positions in the general management of agencies and public companies. They were finally awarded following various councils of ministers and largely went to those close to the president and his prime minister.

“Bassirou Diomaye Faye is confronted with the exercise of power: there is currently no legal framework to call for applications for key positions at the senior administration level. There is a need for reform within Parliament,” explains Papa Fara Diallo, who points out the limits of this new governance: “The authorities have opened several fronts at the same time and are spreading themselves thin. Maybe they should have picked their battles. These disparate symbolic measures risk being mainly an announcement effect. »