Senegal: fractured, the presidential camp tries to remobilize around Amadou Ba

He is the central but discreet character of the political earthquake that is shaking Senegal

Senegal: fractured, the presidential camp tries to remobilize around Amadou Ba

He is the central but discreet character of the political earthquake that is shaking Senegal. Caught between accusations of corruption launched by opposition deputies from the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) – allegations which justified, according to President Macky Sall, the postponement of the vote – and the fierce attacks from a fringe of the guard presidential close who contests any legitimacy to represent the movement in power, Amadou Ba will have a lot to do to unite his camp around him.

The head of government, who rumors said had resigned, has just been put back in the saddle by the head of state. The latter “renewed his confidence” in him on Wednesday February 7 during the council of ministers, the presidency announced in a press release read during the television news of the first public channel. The same day, Amadou Ba broke his silence to declare that he finally supported the president's decision to postpone the election. He also confirmed on February 9 in an interview with Jeune Afrique magazine that he was still the candidate of the presidential camp.

A maintenance that was not obvious. Summoned to the presidential palace on the evening of Friday February 2 with several presidents of institutions to be informed of the head of state's desire to postpone the February 25 election, Amadou Ba did not hide his opposition to this enterprise. “He was sure he could win in the first round. For him, it was necessary to maintain the date of the election,” confides a minister. But the head of state had already decided.

For several days, while members of Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY), the ruling coalition, struggled to justify the postponement in the media, the disavowed candidate remained silent, letting the divisions express themselves in broad daylight. “Can he still portray Benno? ", "Will he go it alone and run without the BBY label? ", questioned certain executives hostile to his candidacy, while others, conversely, defended his maintenance, believing that "a new candidacy would be doomed to failure and that no one [had] interest until it gets out of hand.”

Bring the slingers back into his fold

There was an urgent need for those in power to display a united front in the face of an opposition which is organizing to demand the maintenance of the presidential election scheduled for February 25. “Relations between President Macky Sall and his Prime Minister Amadou Ba are in good shape,” now assures Khadim Dia, advisor to the Prime Minister. “Regarding the parliamentary commission of inquiry demanded by the PDS, its establishment is necessary in order to cleanse the honor of the candidate designated by our president. The majority deputies had no other choice but to come together to protect Amadou Ba and this involved the establishment of this investigative commission,” he explains.

The statement contrasts sharply with the bitterness expressed at the start of the week by certain supporters of Amadou Ba who saw, behind the postponement of the vote, an attempt within the majority to change candidate. Opinion surveys commissioned by the presidency would show the prime minister losing to Bassirou Ndimaye Faye, the candidate designated by opponent Ousmane Sonko to replace him.

“Those who brandish these unfavorable polls are those who have weakened him since his appointment. Everything was done to overshadow him and hinder his campaign,” said Mamoudou Ibra Kane, former press boss and supporter of Amadou Ba, who describes the postponement and the accusations of corruption as a “plot” for him. dismiss.

If he wants to win, candidate Amadou Ba will first have to work on bringing the rebels back into his fold. His appointment by Macky Sall in September to the detriment of other leaders of the Alliance for the Republic (APR) had given rise to three other candidacies. Mame Boye Diao, former boss of the Caisse des Dépôts, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, minister of agriculture, and Mahammad Boun Abdallah Dionne refused to withdraw despite calls for unity from President Sall, leader of their party.

Call for “appeasement”

But with the postponement of the vote, the situation seems to have changed. “The president called on the government for appeasement in public spaces. It starts in our own camp and this also depends on our candidate. He must bring to reason those in his close circle who speak of a plot mounted by his own political family against him. He must also bring together and reach out to the dissidents in our camp,” argues Doudou Ka, Minister of the Economy. “Amadou Ba will continue with the same inclusive dynamic which aims to bring everyone together, without exception. This includes candidates from our majority,” confirms Khadim Dia.

Will the call for “appeasement” be enough to close the ranks of the majority? Even if few voices were raised within the coalition to publicly oppose the postponement, the majority have already recorded some defections of high symbolic value. Thus, former Minister of Health Awa Coll Seck, a prominent figure in HIV research and infectious diseases, slammed the door of the National Committee for the Initiative for Transparency in the Extractive Industries (CN-ITIE). “Senegal deserves to see its Republican calendar respected even if our electoral process remains to be perfected,” she explained. She also resigned on Tuesday from her position as Minister of State which she had held since 2017.

For his part, describing the postponement as an act which "weakens the Republic", former minister Abdou Latif Coulibaly, secretary general of the government and also brother of one of the two judges implicated in the Council corruption case constitutional, also presented his resignation to the Senegalese president.

After this phase of remobilization around his candidate, the head of state urged his troops on Wednesday to continue government action. Objective: accelerate the return to normal and plug the cracks that came to light following the electroshock of February 3.