Senegal’s elections body on Thursday announced that incumbent Macky Sall had won a decisive victory in presidential polls held on February 24.
The former Prime Minister had thus secured a second and final term as president of the republic. He came to power on the back of a coalition that defeated then President Abdoulaye Wade in 2012.
Sall is an experienced political hand having served previously as a mayor of Fatick, the town of his birth. As Prime Minister under Wade and then a brief stint as head of the National Assembly.
He was elected fourth president of the country in March 2012 and took office in early April the same year. His first term (seven years) ended this year, which situation warranted the just ended polls.
A Wade loyalist turned opponent
Sall was once a key member of the main opposition Senegal Democratic Party (known by the French initials PDS) but left the party to form the Alliance for the Republic-Yaakaar (Alliance Pour La Republique, APR-Yaakaar) in 2008.
A year later in 2009, the party swept legislative seats in Fatick, his home region and major stronghold. He continued to build the political momentum with a number of opposition parties with an eye on the 2012 presidential vote.
Under the Macky 2012 coalition, Sall came second in the polls behind Abdoulaye Wade. Wade polled 34.8% of the votes against Sall’s 26.58%. The runoff saw a stronger coalition led by Sall, the Benno Bokk Yaakar (BBY) garner 65.8% whiles Wade got 34.2%.
That was how Sall came to become the second opposition leader to oust an incumbent. His predecessor also defeated Abdou Diouf who was an incumbent in 2000.
Diouf’s defeat brought an end to the reign of the Socialist Party that had government since independence under first president Leopold Sedar Senghor and then Diouf. The party had been in power for four decades in total.
Macky Sall quick facts
Date and place of birth: December 11, 1961 in Fatick, in Fouta region
Name of party: Alliance for the Republic, APR-Yaakaar.
Profession: Geological engineer and geophysicist – trained in Dakar and Paris
Family: Married to Marieme Faye with three kids – two sons and a daughter
Previous positions held:
May 2001 to November 2002: Minister of Mines, Energy and Hydraulics.
November 2002 to August 2003: Minister of State and Minister of Mines, Energy and Hydraulics
August 2003 to April 2004: Minister of State, Minister of the Interior and Local Collectivities, and spokesperson of Idrissa Seck’s government.
April 21, 2004 until June 19, 2007: Macky Sall was appointed Prime Minister.
Also acted as Chief of Cabinet and ran the campaign for the President Wade’s reelection in 2007.
June 2007 to 2008: Sall served as President of the National Assembly with 143 votes cast out of the 146 voting members.
Sall-led 2016 referendum slashes term limits, caps presidency
In March 2016, Senegalese voted in a referendum that principally cut the seven-year presidential term to five. The reduced term starts with the 2019 poll winner.
Though with a less than 40% turnout, 68% of voters agreed to wide ranging changes to the country’s political structure. Some of the changes included:
- Limiting the age of presidential candidates to 75 and allowing independent aspirants to contest.
- Reaffirming the presidential term limits to two.
- The opposition leader having a status recognised by the constitution and enjoying official benefits.
- Devolution of power with local councils getting more powers.
- Emphasizing citizens rights to a healthy environment and over natural resources and land ownership