Another new Prime Minister, but little change

Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has once again reshuffled his cabinet, appointing his fourth prime minister in as many years.

Idrissa Seck, who had headed the cabinet for the past 15 months, was sacked on Wednesday. He was replaced by Macky Sall, a 43-year-old petroleum engineer and unconditional supporter of Wade, who was previously Interior Minister.

A new 39-member cabinet was named on Thursday.

Political commentators said there were two main reasons for the reshuffle. Firstly, Wade wished to bring into government the Union for Renewal of Democracy - a small opposition party headed by Djibo Ka.

Ka becomes Minister for Maritime Affairs in the new ministerial team, where most of the key portfolios such as finance, defence and foreign affairs remain unchanged.

Secondly, political commentators said, the 77-year-old president appeared to have fallen out with Seck and wanted to replace him with someone who would show more unconditional loyalty.

Seck ran Wade’s election campaign in 2000, which lead to his victory over the incumbent head of state Abdou Diouf.

However, the 44-year-old politician is widely regarded as having his own eyes on the presidency at the next election in 2007. His personal website used to carry the logo “I’ll be president.”

Doudou Wade, a nephew of the president who heads the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party in parliament, hinted that Seck was getting too big for his boots.

He told reporters on Thursday that “for some time there has been a problem of duality of power, which is constitutionally held by the President of the Republic."

Many political commentators believe that the rapid rotation of the post of prime minister is an attempt by Wade to prevent any other individual within government from gathering too much political clout.

Sall, who joined the government as the minister of mines and energy in 2001, was keen to appear non-threatening.

“There is only one supreme authority - the president of the republic - who defines the policies and leaves us to implement them,” said Sall, after his nomination.