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Cablegate: New Government has Strong Economic Team

VZCZCXRO1952
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1330/01 1721343
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211343Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8618
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001330

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, INR/B AND INR/AA
PARIS FOR POL - D'ELIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL EFIN ECON SG
SUBJECT: NEW GOVERNMENT HAS STRONG ECONOMIC TEAM

DAKAR 00001330 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) President Wade, following a historically low turn out at
recently concluded legislative elections, ousted Prime Minister
Macky Sall. Even though Wade was not expected to keep Sall he used
him as a scapegoat for being unable to maintain unity within the
ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and to successfully counter
the opposition's boycott. By appointing a technocrat with a budget
and finance background, Cheikh Hadjibou Soumare, as the new Prime
Minister, Wade is sending a signal about his resolve to address
financial and economic issues. While there are many familiar faces,
the make-up of the new Cabinet also shows his wish to rebuild his
party to win back the hearts and minds of citizens who have lost
faith in the political class. END SUMMARY.

A CAUTIOUS APPROACH
-------------------
2. (SBU) The current cabinet consists of 37 members including 11
women. Unfortunately, Wade did not keep his widely publicized
pledge to create a leaner cabinet. (NOTE: He had mentioned 16-20
ministries. END NOTE). He removed 17 Ministers and appointed 14
new ones. Importantly, he doubled the number of women, underlining
his commitment to the spirit of parity he has longed espoused. The
new cabinet is a carefully balanced mix of senior politicians close
to Wade and technocrats who will be tasked to fix critical financial
deficits and chronic agricultural problems, prioritize a development
agenda, and head-off social unrest. Another key aspect of the
Cabinet is the number of young and women Ministers who were brought
in to inject new blood into the ranks of the PDS. The Cabinet also
reflects Senegal's religious, geographic and ethnic diversity.

SIGNAL TO RECALCITRANTS
-----------------------
3. (SBU) Party rebels who opposed Wade by rejecting the party's
centralized form of selecting its candidates for legislatives
elections and who then instructed their supporters not to vote for
their party's own nominees, were all removed. They include Minister
of Planning and International Cooperation, Sustainable Development
and International Cooperation Lamine Ba, Minister of Commerce
Khoureychi Thiam, Minister of Renewable Energy Sina Diatta, and the
Minister of Urban Affairs Assane Diagne.

ENDING COALITIONS
-----------------
4. (SBU) The Cabinet reflects Wade's decision to end the coalitions
he had formed with several small parties to further divide the
opposition. Seven ministers belonging to these smaller parties were
sacked. Mamoune Niasse, a well-known religious leader, active in
the political scene who was placed in the previous Cabinet to weaken
Wade's nemesis, Idrissa Seck, is now angling to become the leader of
the opposition. In the end, these small parties brought little of
value to Wade in terms of votes, but he used them effectively as
"bloodhounds" to attack opposition leaders and to inflate the number
of parties he could cite as allies.

PREPARING THE SUCCESSION
------------------------
5. (SBU) Many observers believe that Wade is preparing his son,
Karim, to succeed him. As rumors abound, Wade's office issued an
unusual press release four days ago to refute claims that President
Wade was planning to have his son succeed him. Former Senior
Minister Aminata Tall, who many expected to become Prime Minister,
is conspicuously absent. Some of the other former government
heavyweights, such as Prime Minister Macky Sall, Minister of Youth
Alioune Sow, Secretary General of the Government Alioune Badara
Cisse, and Minister of Women, Family, Social Development and Women's
Entrepreneurship Aida Mbodj, were all removed. That said, Wade once
again showed his political acumen as Sall was elected President of
the National Assembly and Mbodj Second Vice-President. Thus, they
have not been completely sidelined. Newcomers include people close
to Karim's camp such as Mamadou Lamine Keita, Minister of Youth and
Employment, and Ms. Innocence Ntap, Minister of Civil Service, Labor
and Professional Organizations.

A STRONG ECONOMIC TEAM
----------------------
6. (SBU) By appointing economic technocrats with little political
ambition Wade is sending a clear message that "he gets it" and that
the economy must be jump-started. Prime Minister Soumare, Senior
Finance Minister Abdoulaye Diop, Minister of Commerce A. Hadjibou
Ndiaye, and Junior Minister of Budget Ibrahima Sarr are the
country's most senior and longest serving economists. The three
graduated from the National School of Administration and Judicial
Studies. Soumare has been Wade's Junior Minister of Budget since
May 23, 2001. He was most previously the Director General of
Finance at the Ministry of Finance. Senior Minister Diop has been

DAKAR 00001330 002.2 OF 002


Wade's Minister of Economy and Finance since May 2001. He was first
appointed in April 2000 as Junior Minister for Budget. Ibrahima
Sarr, who replaces Soumare as Junior Minister of Budget, was most
recently the Junior Minister for Budget's Chief of Staff. Amadou
Habibou Ndiaye, the new Minister of Commerce, is also an upgrade
having previously been a Director of Cabinet, a key interlocutor for
the 2005 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Dakar,
and a past participant in the International Visitors' Program.

MANY FAMILIAR FACES
-------------------
7. (U) Many key Ministers did not change. Cheikh Tidiane Gadio
retains his post as Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs; Cheikh
Tidiane Sy remains Senior Minister of Justice; Ousmane Ngom stays at
Interior but was promoted to Senior Minister; Habib Sy retains the
Infrastructure portfolio; Becaye Diop is still Minister of Armed
Forces; Samuel Sarr stays at Energy; Mame Birame Diouf keeps the
Culture portfolio; Moustapha Sourang remains at Education; and Issa
Mbaye Samb, the former Minister of Hygiene and Sanitation, goes back
to his earlier post as Minister of Health.

COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) Wade's Cabinet strikes a balance between change and
continuity as he continues to focus on reconstructing a PDS mired in
internal fights. Senior politicians in the Cabinet, who are all the
President's men, will primarily focus on that task, while the
technocrats and younger political leaders will work closely with his
son Karim who looks likely to increase his involvement in state
affairs.

9. (SBU) As a technocrat and economist, the new Prime Minister does
not have a political network and is not a player in the current
succession fight. We believe that Soumare, Diop and Sarr know their
domain inside out. Their background may not serve as a total
firewall from political pressures, but does mean any mistakes they
might make will not be because they are in unfamiliar territory.
Challenges they face include resuming negotiations with the IMF,
pursing efforts for the implementation of the Accelerated Growth
Strategy, pursuing privatization, reducing the internal debt burden,
controlling the off-budget agencies, and managing the fiscal
deficit. However, in the current tense political climate and
difficult financial circumstances further Cabinet changes and
political realignments are not out of the question. Moreover, with
an expanded National Assembly and a new Senate coming on-line,
Senegal does not yet appear ready to tackle much-needed civil
service reform. END COMMENT.

10. (U) Visit Embassy Dakar's SIPRNET Web site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/af/dakar.

JACOBS

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