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Senegal’s Macky Sall starts second term with call for dialogue

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President pledges ‘constructive dialogue’ with opposition and vows action on youth unemployment and women’s empowerment.

Macky Sall has embarked on his second term as Senegal‘s president pledging “constructive” dialogue with the opposition and reforms to spur development.

Clad in a navy blue suit, Sall on Tuesday swore “before God and before the nation” to serve the people as several visiting African leaders looked on.

The 57-year-old leader chose the new city of Diamniadio, some 32km from the capital, Dakar, and a product of his Emerging Senegal Plan (PSE) launched in 2014, to make his address.

He urged optimism, saying “it seems new economic perspectives are opening up for our country”, a reference to Senegal’s plans to enter the hydrocarbons sector in 2021-22 via two ambitious oil and gas developments.

In his brief inauguration speech, he also said he would particularly look to aid the young, pursuing employment and training policies promoting “the entrepreneurial spirit and new technologies”.

Senegal elections: Macky Sall wins second term (2:06)

He added he would commit to “public policies favouring women and girls,” ensure “decent housing” for all and “safeguard the environment”.

Sall, in power since 2012, garnered a 58-percent vote share in February’s poll, well clear of former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, who won 20 percent.

He became the frontrunner in the election after two prominent opposition figures were excluded from the election. 

Former Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade who was in power from 2000 to 2012, were barred from running due to corruptionconvictions that the opposition say were politically motivated. Sall and his party deny this.

The election sidelined the Socialist Party and the Senegalese Democratic Party which have dominated politics since independence from France in 1960.

Although the disqualifications outraged the opposition, Sall insisted he would rule “for all Senegalese”.

“I renew my call for … a constructive dialogue open to all political, economic and social forces,” Sall said.

The opposition has so far shown no sign of wanting to grasp any olive branch Sall might extend since he was officially proclaimed as the poll winner on March 5.

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