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Cablegate: Seven Cabinet Reshuffles in Six Months

VZCZCXRO4578
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1299 2931211
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201211Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3210
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001299

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL AND INR/AA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS KDEM ECON SG
SUBJECT: Seven Cabinet Reshuffles in Six Months

1. (SBU) Summary: Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's latest
cabinet reshuffle sees former Secretary General of the Presidency,
Abdoulaye Balde, become the Minister of Defense while Interior
Minister Cheikh Tidiane Sy is replaced at the Ministry by Becaye
Diop who was Minister of Defense for the past seven years. Aminata
Tall, the former Mayor of Diourbel who had fallen out of favor,
replaces Balde as Senior Minister and Secretary General of the
President's Office. Adama Sall, who was fired six months ago from
the cabinet, returns as Minister in charge of Sanitation and
Hygiene. End Summary.

Will Casamance receive more attention?
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Abdoulaye Balde, the new Minister of Defense, is a police
chief by training. He has a doctorate in law and served as a senior
executive in the civil service and as Chief of Staff under former
President Abdou Diouf. President Wade lured Balde into electoral
politics to defeat the Socialist Mayor of Ziguinchor, Robert Sagna,
in March of this year. Balde has served as a mentor and close
collaborator for the President's son Karim. This is his first foray
as a cabinet member and outside of the president's inner circle. By
picking a native of the Casamance as Minister of Defense, President
Wade seems to be signaling that his government is ready to take a
more active approach to resolving the 28-year-old conflict in the
Casamance region where violence has been escalating throughout the
year. Balde now faces the difficult job of restraining an army that
suffered a number of deadly attacks recently while also seeking to
de-escalate the conflict by bringing the rebels to the negotiating
table.

A New Minister of Interior
--------------------------

3. (SBU) The powerful position of Minister of Interior is now held
by Becaye Diop. He is a retired elementary school teacher and one
of Wade's most loyal political companions. Diop is also a native
from Casamance where he is Mayor of the city of Kolda. He is part
of Wade's strategy to have supportive senior party figures in key
positions to allow the smooth implementation of his succession plan.
Additionally, Cheikh Tidiane Sy's removal opens the way for a
return to the government of former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck with
whom Sy had a very tense relationship.

The President is Lost
----------------------

4. (SBU) Former Prime Minister Macky Sall told EmbOffs that the
President was not really as in control of the game as it seemed, "a
close aide of Wade told me that for the first time he feels that the
President has lost his way." Commenting on the reshuffle, Sall
indicated that it is a strengthening of Karim's camp. He described
Becaye Diop who served under him when he was Prime Minister, as "a
yes man who will do whatever Wade wants." Commenting on Aminata
Tall's appointment as Secretary General of the President's office,
Sall noted "this is a direct result of her threat to join my camp."
Sall also thinks that Wade is making a major push to reclaim areas
he lost to the opposition in the March local elections. For
example, Adama Sall is the fifth cabinet member who is a native from
the Fouta region which is Sall's stronghold. Sall confirmed that he
will not return to Wade's party and that he will run for President
in 2012. However, he added that Wade may well call an early
election in 2010 to wrong foot a divided and unprepared opposition.


5. (SBU) Comment: Faced with declining popularity and a difficult
financial situation, Wade may have accepted the need to dialogue
with his opposition. Macky Sall said that Wade has always told him
that he does not believe in such dialogue but that he will use it to
appease the opposition to gain time to plan his succession, which at
the moment involves placing loyal allies in key positions. End
Comment.

Bernicat

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