Senegal’s Prime Minister Amadou Ba has promised to lead the country towards “greater peace and prosperity” after the ruling party officially chose him to replace incumbent President Macky Sall.
Although Sall had already designated Ba as his preferred successor, his endorsement was officially confirmed by Alliance for the Republic party delegates on Thursday, as they named him their candidate for the February 2024 elections.
Sall took power in 2012 and is not standing for a third term as the constitution prevents it.
Ba – a former tax inspector – has served as prime minister since September 2022 and previously held the key ministries of foreign affairs and finance.
Speaking at the ceremony in a Dakar hotel attended by the ruling party and its allies, Ba announced: “I am honoured to tell you that I accept to be your candidate.”
A crowd of supporters joined the party members at the venue.
Mariama, who traveled to the event from Mbao in Dakar’s suburbs, told RFI: “Amadou Ba has been with the President of the Republic for a very long time. I have confidence in him.”
“He knows how to do politics,” added Papis Dioup, another supporter.
“He’s an intellectual. He knows what he’s doing. And that’s why we’re here for him.”
Senegal’s Macky Sall rules out run for third term as president
The 62-year-old has been tipped by analysts as a favourite to win the West African nation’s election, but faces a crowded playing field.
According to press reports, over 200 candidates have declared an interest in running for the ruling party, including former prime minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne and former interior minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye.
Sall, speaking at the nomination ceremony, praised Ba’s “exceptional” track record, but warned of the difficulties ahead.
“The first challenge facing you will be the challenge of illegal migration and youth employment through new mechanisms to be invented,” he said.
In response, Ba declared: “I know that the Senegalese want to have as successor to the President of the Republic Macky Sall someone who will be able to consolidate what he has done, someone who will be able to draw on his heritage, do even better and faster.”
Ba may also face a fierce challenge from opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, who has had to fight to be included on the electoral roll.
Senegal court clears jailed opposition figure for presidential run
The 49-year-old firebrand politician came third in the 2019 presidential election and has been engaged in a more than two-year legal battle with the state following his conviction in absentia for morally corrupting a young person.
Last week, a court ruled that Sonko be re-entered on the electoral lists, potentially enabling him to run for president, but state lawyers said they plan to appeal.
Contenders have until 26 December to register for the election, with the Constitutional Council expected to make decisions on eligibility by the end of the month.