Senegal MPs pass reform to scrap post of prime minister

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DAKAR, May 5, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Senegalese lawmakers on Saturday approved a
constitutional reform to scrap the post of prime minister, the first
initiative of President Macky Sall’s second term in office.

The motion passed with 124 MPs voting in favour and only seven against,
National Assembly president Moustapha Niasse said Saturday evening after a
nine-hour debate.

The government approved the measure last month before sending it to the
parliament where the presidential party enjoys a majority.

Sall, who was comfortably re-elected in February, announced the plan in
early April, telling the prime minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, to
abolish his own job.

The move was a surprise as it had not been part of Sall’s re-election
campaign.

On Saturday, lawmakers also backed legislative changes aimed at preventing
the president from dissolving the National Assembly, which in turn can no
longer table a motion of no confidence against the government.

Justice Minister Malick Sall said the changes were “purely technical and
administrative”.

“The goal is not to increase the powers of the president of the republic,”
he told MPs.

Opposition parties have denounced the constitutional amendments.

“It’s a democratic setback. You can’t concentrate powers in the hands of
one person,” said Toussaint Manga, who heads an opposition group founded by
supporters of former president Abdoulaye Wade.

Sall has been in power since 2012 and secured 58 percent of the popular
vote in the recent election.

A self-proclaimed social liberal — despite a flirtation with Maoism in
his youth — Sall has described, in his autobiography published last
November, a slow, steady rise from a modest background all the way to the
top, despite a stint in the political wilderness.

But critics argue that such single-mindedness has made Sall willing to
bend the rules to get what he wants.