Senegal: Senegal's new Senate doubles number of women in chamber

Middle East Times
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal Friday named 65 new senators, more than half of them women, for the predominantly conservative Muslim country in West Africa.
Wade, who names two-thirds of the revamped parliament, released a list of 65 senators, 36 of them women. Added to four from the 35 elected members, there are now 40 women in the 100-strong chamber, more than double the previous one that had only 18.
The new lawmakers will select their leader who will be the second-highest ranking official in the country after Wade, and can step in in the absence of the head of state. A year after storming to office in democratic elections Wade scrapped the senate in 2001 - introduced by his predecessor Abdou Diouf - arguing that it was a waste of money to have parallel legislative bodies.

But in a surprise move, he re-introduced it this year with changes, notably one giving him the right to nominate two-thirds of the 100-member house.

The majority of his nominees are ruling party stalwarts including several former cabinet ministers. Already his Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) swept 34 of the 35 elected seats in last month's vote. A few opposition politicians, civil society activists, and religious leaders, feature on the appointed list.

The new senate has led to controversy over its composition and cost to the impoverished former French colony. The main opposition parties slammed and boycotted those elections as undemocratic.

Wade, an opposition figure for two decades who swept to power in elections in 2000, ending the Socialist Party's 40-year rule, was reelected in February this year.

The 11-million strong nation has been widely considered one of Africa's most stable democracies.

21 September 2007