negotiations begin, 3 alternates in the center of the game

The legislative elections are barely over, the game of political alliances begins in Senegal. According to the preliminary results published on Thursday, August 4, the two main coalitions are neck and neck, and none of these camps will therefore obtain an absolute majority in the National Assembly. The negotiation game therefore opens and all eyes are on 3 alternates, who neither come from Beno Bokk Yakaar nor from Yewi Askan Wi. These 3 figures could well have the role of kingmakers.

Here are three MPs who probably did not expect to be at the heart of politics. Thierno Alassane Sall from Alternative pour une Assemblée de rupture, Pape Djibril Fall from Servants and Pape Diop from Bokk Gis Gis.

These three deputies, no matter how isolated they are, can actually tip the absolute majority in the new National Assembly: Macky Sall therefore needs one vote, the opposition three. If they appeared as opponents of the head of state during the campaign, nothing is nevertheless fixed in a country where electoral transhumance is recurrent.

Thierno Alassane Sall, intimate and former energy minister of Macky Sall distanced himself from the president in 2017. Dakar’s former mayor, Pape Diop, also declared in 2018: “Macky Sall rules like a despot”. From the new generation, the journalist Pape Djibril Fall entered politics.

But these three deputies, who have therefore distanced themselves from the head of state, are also not on good terms with opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who at the end of the campaign accused them of “working for Macky Sall”.

Read also: Legislative in Senegal: power and opposition neck and neck

The verdict of the opinion polls therefore shuffles the cards on the Senegalese political spectrum with an opposition that is on its way to the height of power. And the alliance game was not long in coming. On the opposition side, Lamine Thiam – the national representative of Wallu Senegal – was clear: these coalitions campaigned on the same themes as them. “We therefore call on them to join us to be together in the majority in the National Assembly,” he said, extending his hand to them.

We invite the opposition to strengthen its unity, it is already acquired at the level of the Wallu/Yewwi coalition. We have three other winning coalitions that have MPs. These coalitions have built their campaign on the same themes as Wallu/Yewwi, which is why we encourage them to form together with the vast majority of Wallu/Yewwi.

Lamine Thiam, national representative of Wallu Senegal

In any case, discussions are underway within the coalitions of these three deputies to establish the procedure to follow and respond to the outstretched hands. Thierno Bocoum, spokesman for Alternative pour une Assemblée de rupture de Thierno Alassane Sall, explains that no final decision has been made at the moment. “We are from the opposition and we will not join Macky Sall’s camp. But this does not mean that we will enter into an alliance with the other coalitions,” he said. These political negotiations may continue: the new assembly will first be deployed in September next year.

What analysis can be made of the result of these legislative elections, where President Macky Sall’s coalition won by a very narrow margin with 82 seats out of 165 in the National Assembly? It is, to say the least, a big disappointment for the government, says Mamadou Lamine Sarr, professor and researcher in political science at the Virtual University of Senegal.

There is a turning point, a message from the population. (…) Many Senegalese feel disappointed, sometimes betrayed by the current political class and especially those in power. And so, in my opinion, they sent a message about the leadership and governance of the country, to tell people “You must rule together”.

Mamadou Lamine Sarr, Research Professor of Political Science at the Virtual University of Senegal

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