DAKAR -- Senegal is inaugurating a new parliament Monday with a coalition led by the president's party holding a large majority
30 July 2012, Voice of America
The day's mantra among citizens and new
lawmakers is "a break from the past” -- a past in which parliament was seen as
serving the political elite rather than the people.
The new national assembly takes office about four months into the
administration of President Macky Sall, who came to office vowing greater
decentralization of power. Last week, President Sall, whose Bokk Yakaar
coalition won 119 of 150 seats in an election earlier this month, said the
Senegalese people's demands for better governance will require a "rigorous"
parliament and effective collaboration between lawmakers and the executive.
The incoming assembly is the first since Senegal adopted a gender parity law
designed to boost the number of female legislative candidates. Of its 150
elected representatives, 65 are women -- nearly twice the number of the
Civil society members say women tend to be well in tuned to their communities'
needs and their presence is expected to improve the parliament's responsiveness
to the people.
The newly elected lawmakers will serve five-year terms in parliament.
West African nations were relieved earlier this year when Senegal -- which has
never seen a coup and is known for the relatively sound functioning of its
democratic institutions -- got past a tumultuous election and completed another
peaceful transition of power.
While the country's political stability is to be lauded, researchers with OSIWA and AfriMAP, both of which are
funded by Open Society Foundations, say electoral and constitutional reforms
are urgently needed to safeguard stability and improve citizen participation.
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