Senegal: Amadou Ba, official runner-up to Macky Sall in the presidential race

Senegal: Amadou Ba, official runner-up to Macky Sall in the presidential race

The presidential coalition now has its candidate: Prime Minister Amadou Ba was designated, Saturday September 9, successor to President Macky for the presidential election of February 2024. A new role, whose first challenge is maintaining unity in the ranks of power.

The wait will have lasted a little over two months since President Macky Sall’s announcement not to run in the presidential election of February 25, 2024. The presidential coalition Benno Bokk Yakaar (United by Hope – BBY) has finally officially designated its candidate on Saturday September 9 at the end of the afternoon in a speech broadcast on national television. “ We have selected Mr Amadou Ba, current Prime Minister, as Benno Bokk’s candidate », declared Moustapha Niasse, charged by the president with hearing the various applications.

The choice of the runner-up, although it kept the political class in suspense, is however not surprising. “ The suspense was artificially maintained » assures Moussa Diaw, doctor in political science at Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis. Aged 62, Amadou Ba was announced as the favorite among the ten other candidates wishing to don the costume of Macky Sall’s dolphin. Immediately after the official announcement, the presidential coalition shared a campaign poster on social networks claiming “ a consistent choice, for a victory in the first round “. A technocrat trained at the National School of Administration and passed through the judiciary, his new appointment appears to be the logical continuation of his ascending career: tax inspector, he heads Taxes and Domains before occupying several ministerial portfolios. As Minister of Economy and Finance from 2013 to 2019, he became one of the architects of the implementation of the Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE), Macky Sall’s flagship development program. Then appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs (2019-2020), he built his stature internationally and thus created a large network, particularly in France, which led to him being perceived by some of his detractors as the “candidate of the Quai d’Orsay. Conversely, it reassures international investors and donors, an asset after months of tension and political unrest in the country.

Crisps and challenge of unity

Chosen to be “ a unifying leader » within the presidential coalition and beyond, the enarque will have to take up a significant challenge: maintaining and consolidating the coalition. “ It was the best choice to avoid causing the implosion of BBY even if there are already reactions » says Moussa Diaw. The first divisions were not long in coming: Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, Minister of Agriculture, resigned as soon as the announcement of Amadou Ba’s candidacy was made official. Others risk following, thus weakening the coalition. “ The government wanted a unifying candidate but there are already turmoil and discordant voices, notably in the Alliance for the Republic (APR), Macky Sall’s party. » underlines Babacar Ndiaye, political analyst at the WATHI think tank. Macky Sall himself assured that “ victory was within reach » while emphasizing that it was necessary to note “ the challenge of unity “. Within the APR, some jaws tightened in the face of this “ candidate designated and imposed by the president » according to Mr Diaw. “ Amadou Ba only joined the party in 2013/2014. Its legitimacy is contested by historical activists » explains the political analyst. Another criticism against him: he is not a grassroots activist and has no solid roots. He has never held an elected position. With less than six months before the elections, the challenge of establishing itself within the coalition but also of gaining popularity is urgent. Discreet and uncomfortable in front of the media, Amadou Ba stayed relatively away from the debates that shook the country, taking care to avoid controversies. He will thus have to assert himself and make people forget this “ label of billionaire civil servant which works against him» reports Moussa Diaw.

Continuity strategy

“The Senegalese want change. Subjects like unemployment, dysfunctions of democracy, etc. must be approached and treated differently. What policy will Amadou Ba propose? » he questions. Pillar of the president’s policy, who praises his qualities as ” humility and listening », the dolphin is part of the pursuit of the economic, political and social policies of Macky Sall who commissioned him to perpetuate his legacy. “ The slogan is clear: we must continue the PSE and it is best placed for this. However, does the population want this continuity? He will also have to shoulder the record of his predecessor and risks receiving group shots » predicted Babacar Ndiaye. The political opposition will not fail to attack him on this subject and if he is content to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor. It is this opposition that made a breakthrough in local elections but which has been dispersed since the arrest of Ousmane Sonko, the main political opponent, whose party was dissolved on July 31 and who was removed from the electoral lists, whom he will have to defeat to allow his camp to remain in power. The political game is more open than ever: around thirty candidates have already been announced for next February.

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