Macky Sall shot to his present political height of Senegal’s president-elect in a space of 12 years, building on experience. He is originally a geological engineer. He was named minister of mining and energy 11 years ago, then interior minister, and prime minister in 2004. He became chairman of the National Assembly for 2007-2008.
Now 50, he led his political career in the shadow of President Wade. He managed Wade’s re-election campaign in 2007, as number two in the Senegalese Democratic Party.
But Wade was furious when the National Assembly called his son, Karim, to explain his actions at the head of an agency responsible for work surrounding an Islamic summit in Dakar in March of 2007.
Wade held it against Sall, and forced him to resign in 2008, not only as Assembly chairman but also from his positions as mayor and parliament member.
But Macky Sall was not planning on leaving politics. He formed his own party and ran for the office of national president, with other candidates’ support after making it into the second round. Singer Youssou’N Dour was one of them.
The Karim Wade affair lent credibility to Sall’s self-definition as a republican who resisted nepotism.
One typical demonstrator said: “We need change. Everybody knows that if Abdoulaye Wade leaves power it’s just to pass it on to his son. To avoid that we need to vote Macky.”
Sall did not campaign on an anti-Wade platform. Just before the voting, for instance, he talked about working to resolve the Casamance conflict over regional independence, now going on for 30 years.
Sall said: “If I am elected president, I will do everything possible to get an immediate cease-fire, and above all to create the conditions for lasting and definitive peace. A national inclusive effort will be organised with all the parties involved, the fighters in the MFDC, all the actors involved in the process and the neighbouring countries Gambia and Guinea Bissau.”